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Japan is famous to travelers world-wide not only for its beautiful sceneries, unique culture and cuisine, but also for being the hosting country of many large theme parks. If Kanto area is known for the magical Disneyland, then Kansai attracts tourists with the thrilling Universal Studios Japan.
Located in Osaka, this is one of the 4 Universal Studios theme parks in the world. The Japanese Universal Studios was opened in 2001, and millions of guests come here annually. However, for being such a special place, the crowd can be overwhelming and make the park less enjoyable. Let’s go through a few tips to get the best experience at Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan.
The total area of this gigantic park is 54ha (108 acres), so it has to be divided into different lands, each is built on a distinct theme with main attractions and shows. There are 9 Lands to cover at Universal Studios Japan (USJ):
- New York
- San Francisco
- Universal Wonderland
- Minion Park
- Jurassic Park
- Water World
- Amity Village
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Like other theme parks, USJ requires a ticket for entrance. Once having passed the gate, visitors can join any attraction they wish. For tickets price (tax-included):
+ Adults: 7,900JPY
+ Children 4-11 years old: 5,400JPY
+ Seniors 65+ years old: 7,100JPY
+ Adults: 13,400JPY
+ Children 4-11 years old: 9,000JPY
Tickets to USJ can be purchased through the official website of USJ (http://www.usj.co.jp/e/ticket/) or at Lawson convenient stores all around Japan!
NOTES: although all attractions are open to those having gone through the main gate, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter works a little differently. Due to numerous Harry Potter fans, the USJ must prevent too many people from entering the Harry Potter Wizarding World at the same time with the TIME PASS. USJ places machines at the center of the park to print out a special TIME PASS for the Harry Potter Wizarding World. You do not have to purchase this with money. You simply need to come here and put your gate ticket in to scan the code, then select a time frame. The time frame is for 1 hour, for instance 12:30-13:30 or 13:00-14:00. This indicates the period at which you must get in the HP World, and each gate ticket can only be scanned once, hence can only produce 1 Time Pass.
Depending on the age and personal preferences, there are various ways to have fun at USJ. I would like to suggest a few routes to you guys to help cut back time queuing and make the most of your time at USJ.
If you come to USJ for the thrills and for the crazy coasters, then I believe this plan is the best for you:
Come earlier than opening time!
The official opening hours of USJ is 8:30-21:00, but even if you come to the gate at 7:30 in the morning, you will see many already arrived before time. This is the group of people who would get to enter the park first, hence will get the opportunity to be first riders of many attractions without having to queue at all!
Also, even though the park is supposed to open at 8:30, they let visitors come in much earlier. If you arrive at 7:30-7:45, high chance you can enter at that time without having to wait 45 extra minutes. The earlier you get in, the more time you have to play!
- Flying dinosaur
- Jurassic Park – the Ride
- Minion Mayhem
- Get the Harry Potter Wizarding World time pass to enter between 12:00 and14:00
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- Visit shops and have dinner at the Three Broomsticks
- Exit Harry Potter Wizarding World
- Spiderman the Ride
- Space Fantasy
FAMILY WITH KIDS
If you come to USJ with little children who cannot access most of the attractions due to required heights, then the Universal Wonderland and the Minion Park are two areas you should spend most time at. These zones are made for kids, with attractions that are not too rough and designed very attractively. Also, keep an eye out for the daily parades and check the schedule for shows at USJ. There are theaters scattering around the park with short shows such as the Snoopy Studios, or the Sesame Street Fun World!
Remember to bring baby carts with you! No matter the attraction, you usually have to queue at least 5-10 minutes. The queuing process can be challenging for small children, so bring a cart to make sure they can wait in turn comfortably.
Restaurants and coffee shops are available in all areas of the park, and these are perfect resting stops. Walking and waiting for a long time is not very suitable for young kids, so you can always take a break the nearest coffee shop or restaurant, since these dining spots are always decorated very nicely, with delicious treats to calm everyone down!
Check the crowd density
Since there are peak times in the year when many people want to visit the USJ, it is wise to check the crowd density before you buy tickets. Choosing the dates with less visitors really helps since you would not have to queue as much for attractions and dining spots.
To check Crowd Calendar at USJ: https://usjinfo.com/
Aside from the 1-day or 2-day gate pass, there are also Express Pass sold for prioritized entrance at hot attractions. These are for visitors with bigger budgets who want to spend less time in lines. There are many different types, for example the “Express Pass 7” are for 7 attractions, but the “Express Pass 4” are for 4 attractions only. The price for Express Pass ranges from 4200-7600JPY (tax included).
Both gate tickets and express pass should be bought 3-4 weeks before you visit USJ! You can buy them here: https://www.usj.co.jp/e/ticket/express_pass.html
Pack snacks and water
Although USJ treats like churros or ice cream are supper yummy, try pack with you some chips or onigiri (Japanese rice balls) to munch on when you are in line! Water is especially important since drinks at theme parks are expensive, and you can easily become dehydrated when constantly moving back and forth between attractions.
In Japan, the community spirit is so high that people tend to go on attraction in groups. Hence, USJ creates the “single line” for those who are solo players. People in this line can be placed in empty seats to fill in groups with odd number of people (3-5-7). Even when going with friends, you can save time queuing by standing in single lines. It is true that you might not go on the rides with your friends, but sharing the experience later is just as awesome!