Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan: all the information at a glance!

We found a visit to Universal Studios Japan in the town of Osaka to be one of the highlights of our visit to this city! It is one of the most beautiful amusement parks in the world and is really comparable to the Disneyland theme parks. In addition, it is one of the busiest amusement parks in the world, so it is important that you enter the park well prepared! We list in this blog all the information you need to visit Universal Studios Japan.

General information Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan is located in the east of the city of Osaka and is easily accessible by train. From Osaka station, take a 5-minute train to Namikujo station and there change trains directly to Universal City subway station. From the Universal City subway station, you can walk to the park entrance in a few minutes.

Food and drinks are of course plentiful in the park, but when we were there it was so busy everywhere that there were long lines at the restaurants. We had read about this beforehand, so we already had enough food and drink with us ourselves. In the park, you may bring drinks, but food is not allowed. They check bags globally at the entrance and we had put all the food in a large bag in the front compartment.

We showed the main compartment at the check right away (which had nothing in it except drinks) and then we could go in. That way we still had enough food and drink with us, so we didn’t have to stand in line for hours during the day for food and drink. By the way, there are plenty of vending machines in the amusement park where you can buy drinks.

The amusement park has a handy app, where you can see wait times at attractions and also apply for a ticket to Nintendo World. Just keep in mind that you have almost no internet anywhere in the park except Nintendo World and at the entrance to Universal Studios Japan. So if you don’t have a local SIM card then you can hardly use the app in the park.

Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan

Buying tickets Universal Studios Japan

You can buy tickets through Universal Studios Japan’s official website, but that seems to be tricky with a European credit card. We bought tickets through Klook’s app and through this we got tickets right in our mail with a QR code and it was scanned at the box office and so we were in quickly.

Our advice, though, is to buy tickets in advance so you don’t have to stand in line. We bought tickets to Universal Studios two days in advance, so we also knew it wasn’t going to rain that day.

You can buy different types of tickets to the park. You have regular tickets to the park, where you have entrance only, and you have express tickets, where you can choose between a fastpass (short queue) for 4, 7 or unlimited attractions. It also includes access to Nintendo World. This is not included with a regular ticket. Of course, these tickets are really a lot more expensive.

You also have tickets, where you can get in 15 minutes earlier than the rest of the guests, but in the end it doesn’t make much difference. We entered the park fifteen minutes later and yet were almost at the front of the first attraction.

The advantage, of course, is that you only have to stand in line for a short time. We bought only regular tickets without fastpass because we found these tickets pricey enough. We ended up being able to do most of the attractions in one day even without a fastpass.

Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan

Attractions Universal Studios Japan

In total, you have about 40 attractions at Universal Studios Japan, with some of them really for small kids. For example, you have a carousel in the park with Sesame Street characters, but we only visited the special attractions. We describe these attractions below.

Jaws: this attraction is centered on the movie Jaws. Here you are in a boat with a captain and during this trip, of course, you get to deal with the great shark from the series. While it is a fun attraction, we didn’t find it super spectacular. It saves that through the single rider queue, we only had to wait 20 minutes for this attraction.

Yoshi’s Adventure: in this attraction, you sit in a cart and ride through Nintendo World. Even though the ride does not go super fast, it is very cool to ride through the world of Nintendo, where it seems like you are in the game.

Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge: we found this to be one of the coolest attractions and we visited this attraction first through the single rider queue. This allowed us to get right into the trolley and we could even sit next to each other. You get 3d glasses on and it looks like you are really in Mario Kart. Especially if you know and have played the game, many things will be familiar to you in the attraction.

Jujutsu Kaisen: the real 4D: here you sit in a cinema hall and with 3d glasses on you see a Japanese cartoon, in which there is a lot of fighting. We waited in line for this for quite a long time and found this movie very disappointing. As far as we are concerned, definitely not recommended to do, since there are also no English subtitles or anything.

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem: You’re in a kind of cart here and it looks like you’re driving everywhere on a screen. An attraction where you can also get nauseous quickly, despite moving little. Definitely a fun attraction though. Especially if you like Minions.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: let’s say up front that we have nothing to do with Harry Potter, yet we found this to be one of the park’s most enjoyable attractions. You are on a kind of roller coaster and all kinds of special effects are used. Very nicely done. You have a single rider queue here, but unfortunately it was not open when we visited the park.

Sadako’s Curse: Dark Horror Ride: kind of a combination of a haunted house and a roller coaster. Most of the time you are on this roller coaster you see nothing. Because of this, you don’t know which way you are going to go in the attraction.

Flight of the Hippogriff: We did not visit this attracie because it seems like a fairly simple roller coaster. Well in the Harry Potter theme and this is another attraction that has a long queue during the day.

The Flying Dinosaur: This is an unusual roller coaster, where you lie in the cart and it looks like you are flying. You go over several times in a very special way.

The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman: The Ride: unfortunately, this attractive one is going to be rebuilt in the park, as we thought it was one of the most fun attractions in the park. A bit similar to the Harry Potter attraction. A roller coaster with lots of special effects. This attraction is definitely in our top 3 attractions of this park.

Jurrasic Park: The ride: this is a water attraction and unfortunately was closed when we visited the park. You can get pretty wet in this attraction centered on dinosaurs.

Hollywood Dream: the ride: this is also one of the most popular roller coasters in the amusement park and you can do this roller coaster forward and backward. Unfortunately, there are also long waits here.

Osaka with kids
Universal Studios Japan

Shows Universal Studios Japan

You have many shows at Universal Studios Japan that you can watch. Some of these shows are outdoors in the amusement park itself and some shows are really inside a building. In addition, you also have a parade of up to 50 minutes. We ourselves were looking forward to the parade in advance, but unfortunately it was cut short considerably due to the expected rain and lasted less than ten minutes with us.

We watched several shows (three in all) and enjoyed all three very much. The advantage of these shows is also that many people can enter at once, so you often only have to wait a short time beforehand. Especially when the park gets increasingly crowded by noon, it is definitely recommended to visit one or more shows in the park.

Check the app in advance to see what shows are offered and which shows you would like to attend. Then you can factor this into your planning for the day.

Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan

Plan for the day

As we said earlier, a little preparation is helpful to get everything out of a day of Universal Studios Japan. Here are some tips.

#1 Get there on time: make sure you are at the entrance an hour and a half before the park opens. We read this in advance on several websites and thought people were crazy. Nevertheless, we did and we certainly did not regret it. We got up at 5 a.m. at the hotel and made sure we got there an hour and a half beforehand.

Why do you need to do this? Because the park usually opens an hour earlier than communicated about it through official channels. Instead of 8 o’clock, the park opened as early as 7 o’clock and we were able to walk right through without a ticket at Nintendo World and had visited the crowded attractions there in half an hour.

#2 Single Rider: use the single rider queue as much as possible. Japanese families want to be in the attraction with each other, and that often makes the single rider queue a lot shorter. Our daughter has no problem sitting next to someone else in the attraction and this saves you hours of queuing. 

At most attractions with a long queue, they have such a line. Sometimes this line opens later, as we had at the Jaws attraction, for example. The queue was 100 minutes and we were in this attraction in 20 minutes. Our daughter always goes between us, so that one parent stands at the exit and one parent can watch the kid go into the attraction.

#3 Make the most of your time: in our case, the park opened at 7 am and closed at 10 pm. We spent a total of 15 hours in the park, which allows you to do most of the attractions in the park.

#4 Day of visit: visit the park on a day during the week. The park is always busy, but obviously even more crowded on weekends. On Mondays, schools in Japan often go on field trips, making Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the best days to visit the amusement park.

#5 Start with the right attraction: walk right into an attraction with a long queue upon entering. We first visited the attractions in Nintendo World where there is normally more than an hour’s queue. We visited these two attractions in less than 40 minutes. As a result, by 8 o’clock we had seen all of Nintendo World and were able to explore the rest of the park.

Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan

Where to stay in Osaka or Kyoto?

You can visit the amusement park from the cities of Osaka and Kyoto. You have plenty of family-friendly hotels in both cities. We stayed overnight in both cities with our daughter.

Kyoto:

We spent four nights in Kyoto with our daughter at the Comfort Hotel Kyoto Horikawagojo. We had a non-smoking triple room here, which was a nice room with three beds and a bathroom with both a shower and a bathtub. The hotel is in a fine neighborhood and in front of the hotel the bus stops, which goes to many different attractions.

At the hotel you also have a list for each temple of which bus or train to take from the hotel so that’s super convenient. We had also booked breakfast with this room and it was delicious. There were plenty of Western things at breakfast as well, so our daughter had an excellent breakfast as well. For more information on the Comfort Hotel Kyoto Horikawagojo, take a look here.

Of course, there are plenty of other family-friendly hotels in Kyoto. For a total list of all family-friendly hotels in Kyoto, take a look here.

Osaka:

We spent five nights in Osaka at the Bon Condomunium Umeda. This hotel is in a nice neighborhood and is close to Umeda station, where you have lots of eateries. We had a beautiful apartment here. You do have to keep in mind at the hotel that there is no front desk and you can only check in via chat (which, by the way, was fine to do though).

We did not include breakfast, but the same street as the hotel already had more than three supermarkets, so we could easily gather our breakfast together. For more information on the Bon Condomunium Umeda, take a look here.

Of course, there are plenty of other family-friendly hotels in Osaka. For a list of all family-friendly hotels in Osaka check here.

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