Universal Studios Japan (ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン)

Thursday, 3 May 2018



As one of the four Universal Studio Theme Parks in the world, I made sure to spend a full day at Universal Studios Japan (ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン) before we left the country. I'm no amusement park enthusiast but I absolutely love the happy carnival-like atmosphere of theme parks and the chance to be able to feel like a kid again—even if it's just for one day.



Tip: Plan your day's trip to USJ. Don't buy your tickets at the gate or visit USJ mindlessly without having a plan. In order to maximise your time as efficiently as possible and get the most out of your experience for that day, thought must be given to the day you visit, the size of the theme park, the number of rides, wait time, and what you really want to do/see by the end of the day.

According to Klook, one of the official partners of USJ, the best day to visit is Wednesday or Thursday because the theme park gets huge crowds from Friday to Tuesday. Generally speaking though, I think most people will agree that best to avoid the weekends (if you can) when visiting theme parks. If you're interested, here's a website that predicts the size of the crowd at USJ. It's in Japanese, but you can still work out and see what days are usually the busiest. We went on a Wednesday.



Tip: Buy your entry ticket to USJ prior to your visit. We purchased our ticket online on Klook, and they were open date tickets. This meant that we could visit USJ on any day before the date written on the pass. When we ordered our tickets, we chose the date 16 November 2017 to give us some leeway in the event of a bad weather forecast, but we ended up visiting on the 15 November 2017 as originally planned.

While I wanted to get to USJ early (at around 8:00am), we didn't end up getting there until about 9:50am. (Our Airbnb was located about 40 minutes away by train to USJ). Luckily for us, we didn't have wait in line at all to get into the theme park because we had purchased our tickets online beforehand. We simply scanned our own tickets through the machines and we passed through the gates almost instantly.

To be allowed into USJ, you must buy the Studio Pass. However, if you wish to shorten your wait time on rides, you can purchase an additional ticket called the Express Pass. We only got the Studio Pass (which was $84 each), because we thought it was too expensive to buy the Express Pass, which was an additional $66.



My plan was to go all on the rides we want to go on first, and then visit each "world" in a more relaxed manner. The first attraction we went to is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (TWWOHP) which is probably the most popular attraction in USJ. Although I'm not a very big Harry Potter fan (despite watching all 8 movies), I was absolutely enthralled and amazed by the size, detail and accuracy of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. It really felt that I was in the movies. And because everything was so beautiful, it was quite hard for us to just walk straight to The Forbidden Journey ride without taking photos along the way (haha).





Note: During peak season or when the crowd is huge, USJ will issue what they call "Timed Entry Tickets" to the TWWOHP, which are tickets which allow entry at a designated time. Although it looked like there were a lot of people at USJ when we visited, no Time Entry Tickets were being issued so we were free to enter TWWOHP whenever we wanted to.







There are two rides at TWWOHP: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. We only went on the Forbidden Journey, which is a ride that gives you a 360 degree and 4D experience as if you're actually flying through the world of Harry Potter. We waited about an hour to get on the ride and we actually got the chance to ride it twice. The ride stopped halfway due to "safety reasons" during the first time we went on it, so they allowed everyone who go on it again for a second time. I enjoyed the ride a lot—it was really fun!





By the time we left TWWOHP, it was already 1:00pm so we went get something to eat. We did buy some onigiris before entering USJ so we didn't need to spend so much money on food, but it wasn't enough to keep us going. Therefore, we went to have lunch at Louie's N.Y. Pizza Parlor in New York. For a set meal, which included a bowl of pasta, slice of pizza and a drink, it only cost us about ‎¥1,400 (which is approximately AUD$16). The food wasn't amazing, but for theme park food, it was definitely better than I had expected.







The next ride we went on was the Hollywood Dream - Backdrop in Hollywood. There are two roller coasters you can go on: Backdrop, which is a backwards roller coaster, and The Ride, which is a normal roller coaster where you go forward. As much of a thrill seeker I am, after this ride, I've come to realise I don't do well in any activities that include drops. I was fine at the end of it (I didn't vomit or feel sick afterwards), but it was scary! (Screaming definitely helped.)



After that, we went to visit Minion Park. I love the Despicable Me franchise, but not enough to buy any of their merchandise. The "park" isn't very big, so there wasn't a lot we could see or do. We did, however, go on the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, which we waited a long time for—over 1.5 hours! The ride was similar ride to the Harry Potter one, except that the graphics was much less realistic and not as exciting. In fact, it was quite disappointing given the the length of time we had to wait in line for it.















By 4:00pm, the sun was starting to set so we quickly did a walk through the rest of the attractions, such as Snoopy Studios, Hello Kitty Fashion Avenue and Sesame Street Fun World.









At around 4:30pm, we went back to TWWOHP so we could try the famous Butterbeer beverage in the movie/books. Sharon also wanted to get some HP merchandise and I wanted to go for photo opportunities (to see Hogwarts and Hogsmeade in the evening and at night).



Tip: Get your butterbeer at Hog's Head, instead of the stand right by the entrance of TWWOHP. Hog's Head is not far from the stand either—it's basically located diagonally next to it. We got our butterbeer almost straightaway, while there was quite a good handful of people queueing up at the stand. The butterbeer was very sweet and creamy—almost like a fizzy butterscotch. Unless you're a huge HP fan or you love sweet drinks, just get the standard cup rather than the mug.





















There was also a night performance called the "Gift of Angels" which started at around 6:30pm, but we couldn't really be bothered to stick around to have look (I think there's a fee payable as well).

We had a long but fun day at USJ. Even though we didn't go on all the rides we wanted to, we made good use of our time and really enjoyed being there. It wasn't too busy or crowded that day, so I think it was the right decision to go on a Wednesday (or that we were just lucky). And as we were leaving USJ at around 6:00pm, I also managed to get a photo with the Cookie Monster :D #theperfectending



Universal Studios Japan (ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン)
2 Chome-1-22 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka 554-0031
554-0031 大阪市 此花区 桜島2丁目1番33号

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