Long weekend in November -- crowd levels, tips?


Earning My Ears
Feb 9, 2003
We are a family of four (kids are 13 and 11) considering a trip November 8-11 to Universal -- complete newbies to Universal. Our travel will most likely place us in Orlando mid-morning on 11/8 and set depart late afternoon/early evening on 11/11. We don't really have flexibility in those dates or times.

A few early November questions:
What are crowd levels and wait times historically like at this time of year? Is it worth the extra $$ to do a hotel that offers express pass at that time of year?
Is the weather such that Volcano Bay still something the kids will want to do?
How far out do you have to book dining (if at all)?
I'm guessing that we'll be too early for Christmas stuff to be going yet, but please let me know if that assumption is incorrect.



Jun 18, 2018
-IMHO we always book a hotel with express pass privilges no matter what time of year if our intent is to do the rides. Less hassle, less stress, early entry privilges. We want to enjoy as much as possible instead of waiting in a line. We're just not line people, some people are.
-Early November should be a great time to go. Weather should be great and less crowds during the week. Weekends may be crowded. Holiday events won't start until November 16.
-Kids are always up for Volcano Bay. Doesn't matter time of year except for January/February when it may close down if a cold front comes thru and temperature drops.
-This is not Disney so we've never booked dining in advance. Usually do it day of and have never had a problem. Universal has a lot more diversified easily accessible dining options because of City Walk.
-Enjoy your trip!


May 13, 2010
We can’t imagine not having express pass. It won’t be crazy busy but EP is so amazing. We went that same time a couple years ago and it was too cool for us for volcano bay. We have lived in the south for years now though so prefer it a bit warmer to swim. Our son did the hotel pool but only once. Great time of year to enjoy the parks without the insane heat.

And no need to reserve restaurants ahead of time. It’s not like Disney. Just walk up and enjoy.


DIS Veteran
Jan 1, 2016
I'm also very spoiled by EP. I can't really say if you need it or not because the year we went early in Nov, we had it so didn't really pay attention to wait times (which is an extremely freeing wonderful feeling). I had touring plans at the time and they rated the weekend as an average (4-6) level crowd. That was 3 years ago and the first weekend of Nov so I'm not sure it's particularly relevant to your situation.

We've been in Nov 3 times and all 3 times the kids spent time in the resort pool but it was a little chilly (70s). The kids were fine, I was fine in the sun, so I would think VB is still an option.

Too early for Christmas by a week.

If you want to eat at a place that takes reservations, I would do one a week or so ahead of time (or whenever you decide to eat there). A lot of places in City Walk don't take reservations. Everyone else seems to have great luck just going the restaurants and not waiting but that's not been my experience. Maybe it's because we have 5 and certainly the last two years having gone the weekend before Thanksgiving played a role but walking up has meant 45-60 mins waits for us (even with preferred seating).


Earning My Ears
Nov 22, 2013
It will be relatively busy with Jersey week and Veterans Day (we were there at that time in 2017). However, getting to the parks early, having tickets in hand, and hitting rides like Minions, FJ, and Gringotts first thing (since you will be there multiple days, you can alternate), will make your trip more fun. The Universal app is useful too.

We have stayed at Portofino (EP) and Cabana Bay (no EP) and have had fun at both. When we went as a family of 4, we made sure to eat at off times and had no problems getting seated fast (the Landry's select card rocked when the boys wanted to go to Bubba Gumps!)

Weatherwise, it was warm enough for pool time and we did swim a couple of days, but mostly we were in the parks having a ball.

I think going with a great attitude, getting to the park early, staying hydrated, snacking when you need to, resting with some of their fun shows, watching the app for ride times, having a few really good meals, and having fun with each other was the key for us to have fun without Express Pass. That said, if you can afford to stay at an EP hotel, go for it - it is WONDERFUL!

~ Marci


Last chance to lose your keys.
Feb 11, 2009
What are crowd levels and wait times historically like at this time of year? Is it worth the extra $$ to do a hotel that offers express pass at that time of year?
I would always recommend a resort with EP. Not only do you get EP, but the resorts are awesome as well so its worth the cost. They are also all easily walkable if you don't want to take the water taxi at any point. Aside from short waits for the rides, EP also gives you the flexibility to sleep in and show up at the parks at any time you want. Early entry isn't important (except to ride Hagrid's). You can also tour the park in any order you wish, rather than rushing to a specific ride or section of the park. It just makes for a more enjoyable overall experience, IMO.

Is the weather such that Volcano Bay still something the kids will want to do?
50/50 chance really. We have been twice in November and both trips had days that were warm enough for swimming and days that were not. We've had a high of 57 degrees and a high of 85 degrees. Volcano Bay also has shortened hours during that time of year. I would probably skip it in November, or at least leave some leeway in your planning to fit it in if you have warm temps. Volcano Bay will probably be quiet that time of year, at least.

How far out do you have to book dining (if at all)?
We have never reserved dining in advance and never had an issue. Many City Walk restaurants also do priority seating for onsite resorts, so this helps if there is a wait for walk-ups.


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