Even if you’re just starting to plan your Universal Orlando trip, you probably know the basics of accounting for crowds. We all know that the parks are most likely to be packed during the summer months when the kids are out of school and the weather is beautiful. The savvy traveller might book for mid-winter dates, or another off-season time as a strategy to avoid long lines and longer wait times. This is where the Universal Studios Orlando crowd calendar comes in.
We’re at an awesome place to start. Fortunately, there is a lot more to know about managing crowds during your vacation!
This post is sponsored by Orlando Fun Tickets. The #1 ticket seller in Orlando.
But where to begin? There’s a ton of information out there about crowd calendars and ratings and point systems and so on. How can you determine which ones are legitimate? How do crowd calendars even get their information? Are they accurate at all? What is the point of planning your trip down to the hour?
Deep breaths. I did all the research on Universal Studios Orlando’s crowd calendars for you, and we’ll tackle your questions one at a time. Buckle up and get ready to make the most of your Universal Orlando vacation.
What is a Crowd Calendar?
Crowd calendars are daily assessments of how busy a particular amusement park or attraction will be. They usually project several months ahead, and update regularly to reflect actual crowd volume statistics from the park.
They can take a variety of forms, including an actual, visual calendar that summarizes each day’s crowd levels. Others break it down hour-by-hour. Some differentiate between each of Universal Orlando’s parks. I have found crowd calendars that do everything from indicate the weather every day to the wait times for specific rides based on actual user feedback.
What are the Best Crowd Calendars for Universal Orlando?
The next question you should be asking is where can I find all these great resources? You are in good hands, friends. Here are some of the best crowd calendars that I have found for Universal Orlando, with some information about each.
This website is my absolute favorite place to get discounted tickets and information on all things Orlando. Not only do they have low prices and promotions that match and then beat official tickets from Universal itself, but they also have a lot of vacation planning tools to help you maximize your trip every step of the way.
Undercover Tourist also has one of my favorite Universal Studios Orlando crowd calendars. . It looks overwhelming at first because they include statistics for every park in Orlando (from Disney to Universal to SeaWorld). Just adjust your search to look for the parks you plan on visiting, and then look at each day you wish to visit. It gives you a rating of how busy each park is on a scale of 1 to 10, plus data on the weather and the best times to avoid the crowds.
Another pro resource is the Orlando Informer, which is packed with loads of tools to help you navigate their complex calendar. I’ll break it down for you so you can just worry about the specific dates you are planning for your visit.
The Orlando Informer ranks each day on a scale of very busy, busy, moderate, and slow, and includes the open hours of each Orlando park every day. Universal tends to adjust its hours based on crowd levels, which is helpful to know well in advance. The O. I. makes recommendations about getting Express Passes for rides based on how busy the parks are supposed to be, as well as scheduled maintenance that Universal plans on slower days.
Be sure to glance at the weather information for each day, plus the predicted maximum wait times for the popular rides in each park.
A great benefit of this crowd calendar is the individual breakdown of crowd ratings at both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. It also takes the average of those ratings to score each day for the Universal Orlando resort as a whole. Their information is updated continuously, especially for extremely popular rides like Transformers: The Ride – 3D and the newish Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride.
If you are particularly interested in the crowd levels for your trip based on extensive research and statistics, I recommend checking out this calendar and making the most of it. If not, perhaps look elsewhere. TouringPlans.com requires you to subscribe to a yearly membership to view the complete 365-day calendar, which is necessary if you are using crowd calendars to plan a trip instead of just checking a general calendar when you are actually traveling.
Are you looking for a clear-cut, color-coded crowd calendar that doesn’t require a fancy description to understand? Take a look at this one on World of Universal’s website. It marks each day of the year as slow, fair, or busy, with green, yellow, and red colors to match.
This is great if you aren’t looking to go extremely in-depth with planning your trip based on crowds, or if you are not very flexible with your travel dates. Use this one to just get a feel for how busy it will be on the days you are planning on going.
How do Crowd Calendars Work?
So we know a little bit about where to find the best crowd calendars for your Universal Orlando trip. But how is this information even calculated, and is it any better than making a strong guess based on your kids’ school calendar?
Actually, crowd calendars are something of a vacation-planning science. They take into account holidays and school breaks, this is true, but also events happening in the parks, the opening of new or popular attractions, and historical patterns.
Plus, many are based on actual wait times and assessments taken on the ground in the park itself. TouringPlans.com, for example, has an app that users can log into to track their wait times for various rides and attractions. Researchers also scan the market to determine the heaviest crowd days. There is definitely a lot more that goes into making a crowd calendar than eyeballing general travel trends.
Are Crowd Calendars Accurate?
The magic question. Can crowd calendars be trusted when you’re making major vacation plans for Universal Orlando? Nobody wants to show up to the parks on a day that was supposed to be completely slow and find swarms of sticky tourists.
In my experience crowd calendars have only ever helped me. But here is what I always say: take everything with a grain of salt.
Chances are better than not that crowd calendars will be accurate when it comes to the expected crowd volume for a particular set of dates. They take into account the general trends and can usually make realistic predictions based on what information is available. They will not be 100% accurate 100% of the time, which is why traveling requires both research and patience.
I will again use TouringPlans.com as an example of how much faith you can place in crowd calendars. Lucky for you, they are actually really committed to improving accuracy all the time. Real people go into the real parks and take real measurements of wait times for rides. They do this daily, and then hold themselves accountable to how accurate they were day to day. You can always look back through their records to see how they’ve improved. (Again, remember the catch: you do have to pay a little bit for that reassurance of accuracy.)
Is It Worth It?
Crowd calendars can be an excellent resource for planning your trip to Universal Orlando. You know the best websites to find information, and you have options based on how much time and effort you want to put into researching park volume. But do they actually work? Will you save time and headaches and money?
It’s a yes for me.
I have found over and over again that at least looking at a crowd calendar once or twice before my trip has made a huge difference in when I choose to go. They have helped me avoid dates that were unexpectedly busy and have given me an idea of how long I should expect to wait for rides.
Most importantly, crowd calendars have helped me (and hopefully, you!) save money. If you are considering purchasing Universal Express Passes that help you skip lines, then you want to be very sure if you will need them or not. It’s always possible to buy Express add-on tickets while you’re actually on your vacation, but it is so helpful to not have to think about shelling out even more money while you’re in the thick of spending it left and right.
This post is sponsored by Orlando Fun Tickets. The #1 ticket seller in Orlando.
Ultimately, only you can determine the worth of using crowd calendars to plan your trip. If you are going to use them to their full capacity and really work with the information, then go ahead and check out the calendars we just discussed. If you know that you can’t adjust your dates very much, go ahead and check them out anyway to know what to expect during your trip.
Are you looking for more pro vacation tips and tricks to help you navigate Universal Orlando? This post has some awesome travel tips from Orlando experts to help you make the most of your time and money.