Universal Studios Japan is the city of Osaka’s fun answer to Tokyo Disney Resort. Here, you’ll find the first Super Nintendo World, the world’s last surviving Jaws attraction, and plenty of other lands and rides themed to Universal movie properties like Minions, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park.
This is a theme park with some serious roller coasters and a vibe that’s more thrilling and adult-oriented, though there are still kid-friendly areas like Wonderland, with its Snoopy, Hello Kitty and Sesame Street zones. Here are five things to know before you go.
1. Certain rides are exclusive to Universal Studios Japan
The Flying Dinosaur coaster in the Jurassic Park area, which you ride facing down, is one of them. The same goes for Hollywood Dream: The Ride, which has a “Backdrop” version that runs in reverse.
Universal Studios Japan is the only place you can still board a boat and see the great white shark from Jaws popping out of the water. Yoshi’s Adventure is exclusive to Osaka’s Super Nintendo World, as is Space Fantasy: The Ride, which receives seasonal makeovers giving it a different theme during the Cool Japan event.
In addition to these attractions, the theme park has the new Mario Kart ride and other global mainstays like The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man 4K3D, Despicable Me: Minions Mayhem, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Jurassic Park: The Ride, and more. Some attractions have a Single Rider line for faster boarding.
2. Opening times and re-entry
You may have heard through the grapevine that sometimes the park opens before the official time.
Keeping loose hours is one thing that sets this apart from Tokyo Disney Resort. Another is that there’s no reentry with the same one-day ticket if you exit the turnstiles. This is something to keep in mind if you’re planning to line up outside the park before it opens and be one of the first people to enter it in the morning.
When you enter, you’re there for the day. The exceptions would be if you have an Annual Pass or you’re prepared to leave early and/or buy another ticket to get back in.
3. Getting to Super Nintendo World
A “Studio Pass” will gain you entry but it only gets you through the front gates. Since the park is near a major urban center, it does get crowded. Wait times for the most popular rides can be in the triple digits.
Super Nintendo World is also relatively new, having opened in 2021 when Japan’s borders were closed. At present, it’s virtually inaccessible without a Timed Entry Ticket. You can try to obtain a free one through the official USJ app by scanning the QR code for each Studio Pass in your party. However, it’s a lottery system and Super Nintendo World is in high demand, so there’s no guarantee you’ll win.
A convenient yet pricier option is the Universal “Express Pass.” USJ offers this ticket as a separate add-on, which allows you to move to the front of the line quicker for four to seven attractions.
You can pick and choose from different preset ride combos. Any Express Pass that includes Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge or Yoshi’s Adventure will come automatically paired with a Super Nintendo World entry time.
4. How to buy tickets and Express Passes
Ticket prices vary depending on the day. If you wait to buy your tickets at the booths outside the park, there’s a distinct possibility they’ll be sold out already. The same is true for ticket counters inside the various Universal Partner Hotels, some of which recommend outright that guests secure their passes through the official USJ website beforehand.
That can be complicated if you don’t have a Japanese credit card.
One workaround I was able to find was Apple Pay, which it accepts, even when you have it linked to a foreign card. Otherwise, Klook is likely your best bet for any and all tickets. It’s an English-supported, third-party travel agency that works with USJ as an authorized ticket reseller.
The only downside is that, with Express Passes, Klook chooses your Super Nintendo World entry time for you. Both times we used it, it assigned us an entry time at night.
5. Where to stay and how to get there
The Universal CityWalk shopping and dining complex has several high-rise hotels: the Park Front Hotel, Hotel Kintetsu Universal City, Hotel Keihan Universal Tower, and Oriental Hotel Universal City. As its name implies, the Park Front Hotel is right in front of USJ, and its upper floors hold fantastic views of the entire park. Other hotels within walking distance include the Singulari Hotel & Skyspa, Hotel Universal Port, and Hotel Universal Port Vita.
USJ is within sight of Tempozan Harbor Village and its ferris wheel, and the nearby Tempozan Bridge forms part of the visible backdrop when you’re down in the park. You can access USJ via Universal City station on the JR Yumesaki line. The station lets out in Universal CityWalk, which you’ll pass through on your way to the park’s famous entrance arch.
Have you been to Universal Studios Japan? Share your own tips and tricks in the comments.