Universal Studios Orlando Crowd Calendar for October

The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios
Universal Studios Florida” by Theme Park Tourist licensed under CC BY 2.0

Planning a trip anywhere can be overwhelming for many vacationers. Travel agents make money because they know the ins and outs on how to make any vacation run smoothly, but can you plan a trip without the aid of a professional? Is there access to insider information when it comes to mapping out the perfect getaway? 

Of course there is! 

If you’re traveling to Universal Studios Orlando in October and you’re reading this, then you are on the right track.  In this article, we’ll discuss a few ways to make your trip seamless, including events worth seeing and worth skipping, best methods to beating the lines and even Universal Studios crowd calendar reading tips.

So are you ready to discover the Universal Studios Orlando crowd calendar for October?  If so, let’s kick off this article by talking about the crowd levels you can expect to see in October, and how the crowds in October compare to some of the other popular months at Universal Studios.

Universal Studios Crowd Levels

There are three times a year that are typically considered the busiest for Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. One of the busiest times is spring break season, which is considered the last half of March and most of April. 

Check out our Universal Studios Orlando Crowd Calendar for October
Universal Studios Florida” by Theme Park Tourist licensed under CC BY 2.0

This is a great time of year for weather and there are a lot of events for the entire family like Mardi Gras. Students are out for school, so families usually take advantage of the free time and enjoy central Florida’s finest. 

Another busy time is end of summer which is the last few weeks of August. This is a time when everyone is getting their summer vacations in right before school starts. Universal has a lot of international travelers that come around during summer as well so you’ll potentially lose hours of vacation time waiting in long lines even the express passes can’t get you through. 

With the weather at its hottest, picking a different month will reduce your wait times and save you stress and anxiety. The last two weeks of December and into the new year are the busiest for crowds at any of the central Florida theme parks. With so many on holiday break, wanting to come see all that Universal has to offer as well as take advantage of the cooler weather, this time of year may be crowded but it is truly magical. 

If you’re looking to avoid crowds altogether, visiting the last few weeks of January or 1st few weeks of September will be your best bet. Families are returning to school and work and no events are taking place yet so there isn’t a draw for most annual pass holders. I suggest looking at a crowd calendar of the park for the days that you are planning on visiting. This will help inform you of what to expect on your visit. Hollywood has similar trends if you ever find yourself visiting the opposite coast. Fall, after the summer crowds are gone is best to see Universal Studios in Hollywood. You can generally avoid crowds during the day even into the Halloween season as most guests will be there for the nighttime events. 

You, however, have chosen to come during the best time of year which is October. Because most families are still in school, crowds are not going to be at their highest so enjoying the parks will be easy during the day. We have the park’s most anticipated event of the year, Halloween Horror Nights, but most that attend are annual pass holders so if you are not interested in the Halloween events going on, you can visit Islands of Adventure halfway through the day and you’ll see a trend of shorter lines throughout the park. 

The weather is mild, typically with the sun out during the day and if you are attending HHN, the night provides the perfect amount of chill you’ll need to cool down in between houses. 

Is Universal Studios Crowded in October?

In October, the masses will arrive in the afternoon and evening time for Universal’s biggest event of the year, Halloween Horror Nights. This event attracts many annual pass holders and repeat guests who are there strictly for the nighttime festivities, so there is great opportunity to take advantage of lower guest counts during the day. Is Universal Studios crowded in October? 

It really depends on what you’re there for. If you’re in town to attend all things spooky related, then you will be dealing with a lot of people during our nighttime events. Beginning of October and on a weeknight will be the slowest for the event itself. Everyone is waiting until it gets closer to Halloween Day to celebrate, and annual pass holders won’t go during the week, choosing instead to do a Friday or Saturday night. 

If you want nothing to do with anything relating to Halloween, then our parks during the day are great to take advantage of this time of year. In October, during the middle of the week and as the parks are opening is an especially great time to go. If you’re there at park opening, you can generally walk right onto one of our main attractions, like the newest coaster to our family, the “VelociCoaster” (if you’ve had a light breakfast of course). 

VelociCoaster at Island of Adventure
Universal Islands of Adventure, Velocicoaster” by Martin Lewison licensed under CC BY 2.0

The 1st and 3rd weeks of October are typically the slowest, with the 2nd week bringing in a little more crowd due to the Columbus Day holiday and the final week bringing in the holiday crowds ready for HHN. For a vacation in October to Universal Studios, your ideal schedule would go as follows: An early flight in on the 1st Sunday morning in October will allow you to check in and peruse your hotel and maybe the Citywalk shopping and dining area. 

You can enjoy one of the top-rated restaurants (I suggest Toothesome’s Chocolate Emporium if you are a lover of dessert!) and do some souvenir shopping in the newly renovated Universal Studios Store. You’ll relax as you watch all the guests gather their luggage and check out in a rush to get back before work Monday. This gives you ample time to rest and start fresh early Monday morning. 

If you’ve booked a hotel on property, you can enter Islands of Adventure early and take advantage of the slowest part of the day by jumping on as many big-name attractions as you can. Once you’re losing energy, take a break back at the hotel before heading back for the Universal Studios nighttime event, Halloween Horror Nights, which is typically open Mondays and slowest then as well. 

Luckily, Tuesday there are no HHN events so you can sleep in and either enjoy the pool (it will probably still be warm enough during the day) or head into Universal Studios to see this park with the sun out. Spend Wednesday catching up on anything you’ve missed from either park or want to experience again. 

You can spend the day Thursday enjoying the Halloween Horror Nights daytime Unmasking the Horror tours where you can see the event lights on and highlight anything you missed while trying to survive walking through at night. Take it easy at night and then you’ll be ready to fly back home by Friday having done everything and missing the airport weekend crowds!

Best Methods to Beat the Lines

Not all of us have the luxury of choosing to go when the parks are at their slowest based on a Universal Studios crowd calendar, so how can we avoid wasting time in lines if the time we’ve chosen to go is busy? Best piece of advice, stay on property. Choosing one of Universal’s great hotels like Adventura, gives you more perks than just being right next to the action. 

Any guest with a hotel key is automatically given an express pass for our attractions which can cut your wait time in half at minimum. You may even be able to snag a hotel deal that is cheaper than getting the entire family express passes! Staying on property can also give you access to one of the parks earlier than regular day guests have access, which means heading straight for the busiest attractions like “Harry Potter and Forbidden Journey” where you can enjoy Hogwarts castle without the masses surrounding you. 

This is the best time to take advantage of the wand magic you’ve been dying to practice as well! Some rides you’ll need a mobile pass time for and the best times to be guaranteed a pass is if you’re there early to snag one while inside the park’s property. Opening or closing times are the best for our biggest attractions because guests are slowly making their way in and out of the park. 

If there is a nighttime show, even better as most of the guests will be distracted by the show and you can pop into an attraction like “Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit” that is usually a longer line (this one is great to do at night because it will be more lit up as well!) If you’re not staying on property, Universal’s Express Pass is worth the price during our busiest times of the year. 

You will spend so much more time enjoying yourself rather than standing in a queue waiting to get to the ride. If you’re at the park during a slower time of year, then use weekdays and early/late times of the day to take advantage of more popular rides and see shows or meet characters during the day, you can get away with avoiding purchasing any express line passes as crowds aren’t going to cause you too much of a delay. 

Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights began over 30 years ago with one haunted house featured toward the back of Universal Studios Hollywood. Starting with one Haunted House for our guests to walk through, HHN has built up to multiple parks across the world, over 15 different houses designed for them, scare-zones, and high energy light/pyrotechnic type shows and doesn’t have any signs of slowing down even despite a global pandemic. 

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios
1X7A3914” by BestofOrlando | BestofOrlando.com licensed under CC BY 2.0

At Universal Studios Orlando, we’ve grown to having 12 houses, 5 major scare-zones, and now 2 massive nighttime shows. This event now takes nearly 2 years to plan (meaning, they’re already gearing up for HHN 2023) and involves an incredible amount of work and detail that most guests don’t even see as they’re walking through terrified a scare-actor will jump out. 

There were a few years that both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure held the event but now, the event takes over the Universal Studios side 4-5 times a week, morphing the park into one gigantic, haunted playground. The past few years have looked a little different for Universal as the pandemic had us making necessary changes to keep our employees and guests safe. 

In 2020 for the first time, you could walk through the houses during the day instead of only at our nighttime event to allow space for our guests to walk through. But this year seems to be going back to normal and all HHN mega fans are patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for more announcements as to what houses and zones we’ll have to see. 

We know there will be a stunning light display showing a few times during the night and we’re sure to have another high energy stage performance, along with treats and tricks galore, HHN 2022 will surely not disappoint. To enjoy the Halloween Horror Nights event, you’ll need a separate ticket to attend. 

You can get a ticket for just the event; you can get a discounted ticket for the event if you purchase a day ticket, or you can purchase an event pass which allows you multiple visits to the event and is worth purchasing if you’re visiting and planning on attending more than two times while here. 

There are tour options you can purchase for the event just like daytime tours that allow you front of the line access and specialty treats along the way. You can even purchase a daytime lights-on tour of the houses, giving you a close look at the detail the creators put into the houses and getting you information you won’t see or hear anywhere else. 

There are a lot of different ways to enjoy (and survive) this event, I’m excited you’ve chosen this time of year because it is considered the best time for Universal Studios Orlando.

Is Universal Studios Crowded During Covid? 

When people ask me, “are the theme parks crowded” my answer is always a resounding “YES.” Theme parks are meant to be packed with people and with Florida being a perfect place for so many travelers, domestic and foreign, the self-proclaimed “Theme Park Capital of the World” is always, and forever, busy. 

That being said, during a global pandemic, international travel has been shut off leaving 1/3 of our guests unable to come in like they usually do. And because we don’t have these travelers, our parks have generally been less busy. This does not mean they are slow! In fact, as more Covid regulations are relaxed, we are seeing a massive increase in numbers. 

Going to Universal Studios during Covid

I’m sure summer of 2022 will feel like back to business as usual. In the summer of 2020, we were one of the few places people were able to go to for a vacation so while our numbers were low, there was still a heavy flow of traffic attempting to break out of their Covid slump. Now, nearly 2 years later, mandates are being lifted and travel restrictions are allowing even our furthest travelers to come back for their annual visits. 

October truly is the best time of the year to go so you’ve picked a solid vacation time. But no matter when you visit, expect there to be a lot of fellow theme park fanatics surrounding you. There is so much to see and something for everyone that whatever time of year it is, there will be enthusiasts there in the masses. 

And while we may not all have the same preferences, all theme park aficionados would agree that Halloween Horror Nights is one of the broadest, most comprehensive, and detailed events that any theme park in the world puts on. You will come for the roller coasters and leave a true fan of Halloween and horror when you come in October. 

While you’re checking the Universal Studios Crowd Calendar for October for days of the month that are slowest, be sure to also read up on what to pack for your vacation and you’ll be set and ready for a fantastic experience at Universal Studios in Florida!

FAQs:

Yes! Universal Studios Orlando and Island of Adventure are open 365 days a year and love holidays like Halloween most of all. We have incredible celebrations and include special events to offer guests who come on the day of any given holiday!

It is but under certain conditions. Your best bet is to choose the tour option. RIP Tours offer guests front of line access to every house, a walk through of each scare zone, preferred seating to shows and private bar stops along the way ensuring that you’ve seen everything HHN has to offer in the span of your 4-hour excursion.

This is worth every penny you’ll spend and bonus if you get a tour guide who has been there awhile and can answer questions you may have about the history of the event!

Most of Halloween Horror Nights and our spooky events are enjoyed at night. You won’t be able to see any of the nighttime shows, the decked-out houses or the scare-zones in full swing. However, walking throughout the park, you’ll still get most of the décor as it is not put away fully during the day, the tribute store with all things Halloween will be open for souvenir shopping AND the best part, Universal Studios offers a behind the scenes experience called Unmasking the Horror.

You get a chance to walk through the houses with the lights on and learn about the incredible amount of detail that goes into planning this world-renowned event. I can’t guarantee that your tour guide won’t seize an opportunity to pop out and scare you but there certainly won’t be any scare-actors or disorienting fog so you can see the event in a more relaxed environment.

If you are not a fan of all things spooky, October would be a good month to avoid. For Universal Studios Orlando, this is one of the busier times of the year specifically because of our Halloween events so it will be hard to not see all the ‘horror-ible’ décor and celebrations.

If you’re still wanting to go in fall, waiting until 1st or 2nd week of November is a safer option as it’ll be in between our Halloween event and the upcoming holiday events

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