Universal Studios Japan is obviously the most famous theme park in the Kansai region. Real Mecca of theme parks for United States' blockbusters, it is one of the only two in the world located outside the USA, but remains based on the Orlando original park.
With its grand opening on March 31st 2001, it is the fourth most attended park in 2015, with close to 14 millions of visitors in 2015 (and more than 10 millions every year since 2013). Close to one million clients have an annual pass to visit the place whenever they want.
Another version in Okinawa, thought for some time, is not anymore part of Universal’s projects since May 2016.
Based in Osaka, USJ spreads for about 50 hectares (123 acres) and gathers several theme zones:
- Hollywood (Shrek, Barbie…), New York (Spiderman, Terminator 2…) and San Francisco ( Despicable Me…);
- Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village (Jaws), Harry Potter (since mid 2014);
- and Universal Wonderland (Snoopy, Hello Kitty and Sesame Street).
Some attractions replace older ones. Therefore, in the past there was Back to the future, ET, Oz or Wild Wild West. Other attractions having or which had a great impact are temporary or definitely out of the American empire, to play it local, such as:
- One Piece, Dragon Ball, Attack on Titan or Evangelion based on manga;
- Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, concerning the successful j-pop singer;
- or also Final Fantasy XR, Biohazard (Resident Evil) and Monster Hunter, coming from video games.
From 2020, we will also discover a permanent zone related to Nintendo, located on the East of the Park and called "Super Nintendo World". Attractions such as Mario, Mario Kart, Donkey Kong and Zelda are already confirmed.
To cover an even larger zone than the Harry Potter one, a construction budget of 50 billions of yen (~US$ 462,055,964.20) is planned, which is about 25% more than the wizard’s one. The works began early June 2017.
In September 2017, an USJ teasing let appear new franchises: Sailor Moon, Detective Conan and Monster Hunter.
Crowd, lines and price
To fully enjoy all what USJ has to offer, a good amount of patience is required as well as a well-supplied wallet. The ambiance is set even before entering: if you do not arrive before the opening hour, the line starts as early as the ticket machines, even before the ticket booths. And prices are even higher than Tokyo Disneyland’s, already quite expensive! The big show with 3D and 4D effects is definitely on the receipt.
For those who do not have enough of them, the great Universal Citywalk gathers numerous goodies' stores of all kinds, restaurants with some prohibitive costs (among which a local takoyaki cuisine) as well as hotels with direct views on the park.
Once inside USJ, Hollywood’s glitters shine and represented films and series are numerous. There is something for everyone and for all tastes: parents can visit the moving films of their childhood. The painting could be ideal if there were not so many people, Japanese and foreigners altogether. With the completion of expansion work, development of hotels and arrival of very popular licenses, everybody rushes at the entrance gates, and it is not surprising to wait up to two hours to try one attraction during the weekend.
Despite everything, and the park being definitely exhausting, the USJ experience remains rich and the success is guaranteed for a young audience. Families, maybe overloaded in the Kansai after visiting numerous temples and other traditional places, can also fully enjoy USJ!
How to get to Universal Studios Japan
By JR train -- Yumesaki / Sakurajima line (reachable from Loop Line or directly from Osaka Station), Universal City station and a 3-minute walk
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
1 day pass:
- Children (ages 4 to 11): 5,400¥ (~US$ 49.90)
- Adults (ages 12 to 64): 7,900¥ (~US$ 73.00)
- Seniors (aged 65 or over): 7,100¥ (~US$ 65.60)
2 days pass:
- Children: 9,000¥ (~US$ 83.20)
- Adults: 13,400¥ (~US$ 123.80)
Fast-track ticket (Express Pass):
- 7 attractions: 7,600¥ (~US$ 70.20)
- 4 attractions: 5,200¥ (~US$ 48.10)
Beware: it is not possible to buy a ticket in an agency outside of Japan (except in China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia). All tickets purchased outside this channel are invalid to enter the park.
It is possible to order tickets online up to 3 months before the visit, but only on the official website in Japanese.
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
Open every day of the year, depending on the day:
- opening in the morning between 8h30 and 9h30
- closed in the evening between 19h and 22h
Check on the Official Website
How long / when to visit
A whole day, arriving as early as possible in the morning!
Avoid weekends, holidays and school holidays.