The Land of The Rising Sun is well known for its delicious cuisine, unique culture and popular animations. However, for travellers familiar with and fond of Universal Studios Singapore (USS), Japan is worth visiting for its own refreshing offer to generate excitement. As such, if you use USS as a gauge of what to expect in Osaka’s own Universal Studios Japan (USJ) – you’ll be in for an incredible surprise. Namely, the theme park’s famous Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Flying Dinosaur attractions make a strong case for USJ to be crowned as the best Universal Studio park in the world.
That being said, it is unsurprising that the park is packed with tourists and even locals throughout the whole week. But worry not, the short guide below will help you avoid the hair-pulling madness of long lines and busy crowds in order to make the most out of your USJ experience.
As is true of all tourist hotspots, you cannot expect to see and do all that you want when you’re in a crowd of tens of thousands of people. Thus, before excitedly tackling USJ, remember that you may not be able to cover the whole park in a day. Sometimes you may even have to wait up to 300 minutes for a ride!
However, some days may be better for visits than others. Weekends, summer break (July till August), spring break (end February till late March) and winter break (end December till early January) should be avoided if possible. Additionally, Mondays and Tuesdays can be more crowded than usual too as Japanese schools sometimes send their students to USJ for school trips on these days.
Thus, your best window of opportunity would be on a Wednesday or Thursday, during the October to January months. Another tip is to arrive way before the gates open. The last time I went, the entrance was packed even at 8 am.
Realistically, it is impossible to conquer all the rides. Moreover, you may be easily distracted by the candy shops, souvenir shops and even popcorn stalls scattered around the park. Ideally, you should have a mental list of must-go rides and stick to it as best as you can.
For thrill-seekers, The Flying Dinosaur is a must. Hands down, it is the best rollercoaster in the park. Of course, this means that its waiting time is also the longest. However, its super-speed followed by a 3 minute lift into the sky in a 360 degrees rotation ensures that you have a exciting experience that is worth the wait.
The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are also some main attractions. Although the wait may be as long as 2 to 3 hours on most days, the 3K4D technology is worth your patience as the ride has been listed as the world’s best for five consecutive years. Moreover, you won’t be stuck in a line. Instead there is a ticket booth for the Timed Entry which will show the estimated time for a person’s turn. In the mean time, you are free to walk around and shop for souvenirs while waiting.
Finally, although The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman ride is not a personal favourite, its queue was the fastest, taking only about 20 minutes. The 4K3D graphic effects were surreal and the instances of water splashes during the ride makes it even more realistic.
Having some extra know-how can make all the difference in a trip. In order to give your theme park street smarts a little boost, here are some facts that may to be of interest to future USJ visitors:
- If you’re taking the train from Osaka station, take the JR Osaka Loop Line to Nishikujo Station. From there, change to JR Yumesaki Line and stop at Universal City Station. The park is just a 5 minutes’ walk from this station
- The one-day pass costs 7,600 yen and it’s only valid for one entry. On the other hand, The Express Pass is a separate ticket that allows you to skip the queues. However, this costs an additional 4,100 yen. There are two ways to buy your tickets; either from the Official Website of USJ or from an online Travel Agency that is an official partner of Universal Studios Japan. The park does have a ticketing booth, but it is advised to buy your tickets beforehand.
- The food and beverages inside the park itself are quite pricey. However, just outside its entrance are better options such as Red Lobster, Hard Rock Café and many more.
- At USJ, Muslims can ask for a room to pray in, which the guest services staff will readily allocate. The guest service is located at the entrance and the staffs are able to communicate in English.
Signing off, this amazing theme park in Osaka is definitely a place I would love to visit again. Hopefully this guide will give those who are interested an upper hand, and persuade those who have never even considered it to visit the amazing Universal Studios Japan!
Written by Masturah Merican