Universal Studios Japan in Osaka

· Food, Travel

Let’s start this Japan trip debriefing by the end, with Osaka and more precisely Universal Studios Japan. At first, this park was a bit a pain to understand how it works as I had different feedbacks: purchase tickets in advance? On site? With or without pass?

Therefore, I will try to give details to those who wish to visit the most visited park in Japan (with TokyoDisney Resort) with serenity and also for Harry Potter and/or Sailor Moon fans!

 

Access the Universal Park

The park is located about 20mn from the center of Osaka at the Universal City station. The easiest is to ride the JR Osaka Loop Line toward Nishi-Kujo. Then, change for the JR Sakurajima Line toward Sakurajima and stop at the Universal City station. Then the access to the park is clearly marked-up, you can’t get lost.

 

Book your tickets

Now it gets complicated… well only a little bit! It isn’t as easy as the Disney parks that offer 2 options: entrance tickets and Fast pass inside the park..

Here, comfort and rapidness at the attractions must be paid and thought in advance! We booked only 30min in advance for TokyoDisneyland but it would be unwise to do to the same there, considering the huge line (we actually waited about 20min at the entrance, even though we had our tickets AND it was considered as the « low season »).

Therefore I highly recommend you to book in advance (online with Govoyagin or in a travel agency if you don’t understand anything).

 

ENTRANCE TICKET

The ticket (about 60€ for 1 adult for 1 day) lets you access the park and attractions but you won’t be able to access the Wizarding world of Harry Potter, unless you find a terminal that provides limited tickets for the popular world of wizards from Hogwards.

Better to mention that we didn’t want to stress out in the morning so on top of the entrance ticket we booked an Universal Express Pass, which I highly recommend  unless you like the risk (or you don’t particularly like Harry Potter).

 

THE UNIVERSAL EXPRESS PASSES

These “door-openers” and fast passes are more expensive than the entrance ticket (about 90€ for the Universal Express Pass 7) but I have to admit that we never waited at any attractions mentioned with the pass, which was amazing considering that sometimes there was up to 3 or 4-hour wait (at the main “Harry Potter and the forbidden journey” rollercoaster for instance)

It’s possible to choose between 5 or 6 different Express passes hence my confusion at the beginning. To sum up, we can choose between Express Passes 7 or Express Passes 4: the difference is the list of attractions included in the pass (so 7 or 4 depending on the pass).

Our priority was to try the Harry Potter rollercoaster but also to enjoy the day without rush: so we chose the Universal Express pass 7, which includes Harry Potter. This being said, if you choose a pass, the day will be punctuated by meet-up time: you will need to go to the attraction at the time mentioned on your ticket, which doesn’t let you decide on your exact plan, but we can’t have everything, can we?

For information, find below our given time scheduled of the day with a Pass 7 (make sure to double check on your ticket to not miss anything and be on time):

  • From 11:50 am : The wizarding world of Harry Potter access
  • 12:10pm-12:40pm : Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • 12:40pm-1:10pm : Flight of the Hippogriff
  • 2:30pm-3pm : Lupin the Third Car Chase XR Ride
  • 3:30pm-4pm : Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • And whenever we wanted but to choose between the 2 attractions mentioned::
    The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, The Ride 4K3 or JAWS (we chose Spiderman)
    Hollywood Dream, The Ride ou Backdraft (we chose Hollywood Dreamm)

Explanations about the “tickets” being done, I hope it’s all clear and let’s move on!

 

The different worlds of the park

The Universal park is divided in 9 different worlds (apparently a new “Nintendo” will open from 2020):

  • HOLLYWOOD : in which we find the 4D Sailor Moon attraction.
  • NEW YORK : with the Spiderman attraction.
  • MINION PARK : as the name mention this world is full of cute Minions

  • SAN FRANCISCO : a small Fisherman Wharf that includes the Backdraft attraction.
  • JURASSIC PARK : to my great regret, the rollercoaster was closed for the day and we didn’t have time to check the world neither!
  • WATERWORLD : I’ve already seen the show in Los Angeles so I didn’t go this time.
  • AMITY VILLAGE : with the Jaws attraction.

  • THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER : smaller than the one in the US apparently, but a numerous number of details for the fans can be found (details below)

  • UNIVERSAL WONDERLAND : a world dedicated to Snoopy, Elmo and the Sesame Street characters as well as Hello Kitty.

The biggest surprise for me was to find the small Sailor Moon area in Hollywood with the unique attraction called “Pretty guardian Sailor Moon : The miracle 4D”…

…but also a shop full of souvenirs (surprisingly I didn’t buy at all!), a popcorn booth dedicated to the defender of Justice of the moon (once again I resisted!) and a special food menu in a restaurant of Hollywood Boulevard ( ok, I gave up on this one!).

So here is the map of the park in case you want to have a look before hand but don’t worry the park is quite small so it shouldn’t be a problem!

 

The wizarding world of Harry Potter

One of the most famous area. Apparently it’s smaller than the parks in Florida and California so if you’ve already visited one of these two parks you might be disappointed.

As for me, i didn’t have anything to compare, and as I only finished to read and watch the HP saga last year only (!) it was a complete discovery!

I was particularly impressed by all the details created for Hogsmeade, with shops full of souvenirs and candies and the Castle of Hogwarts, that hosts the attraction I wanted to try, as I had a lot of positive feedbacks.

Indeed “Harry potter and the forbidden journey” is considered as one of the best attraction in the world and I have to admit that all the element were reunited to help.

 

HARRY POTTER AND THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY

Without telling you too much, it’s a ride on rotating seats amongst the different movie scenes with very well-made half real AND virtual settings: Quidditch game, chase with the Dementors…

Sensations are real but totally OK (it’s not a hardcore rollercoaster, so not worries). And what particularly surprised me, was the length of the ride: 5 long minutes… we have time to really enjoy and admire everything!

Very different from the other attraction from this world that I will explain later on.

 

THE “THREE BROOMSTICKS” RESTAURANT

Due to our express pass planning we decided to have lunch at the Three Broomsticks restaurant and it was a brilliant idea. The terrasse was quite (even though it was low season) and great view with the castle.

The menu was not extraordinary good (roasted chicken or pork, grilled corn, salad) but I was able to try to well-known Butterbeer, that I chose frozen: quite sweet and caramel taste, is what I remember.

Not as good as Harry, Hermione or Ron would say but at least I tried!

 

HOGSMEADE SHOPS

As per the derived items available in those world, I couldn’t find anything very special… but as I am not a real Potterhead, I might not be the target.

Anyways, fans will find a large choice of magic wands and other changing time key holders. I would like also to congratulate fans wearing Hogwarts uniforms during this summer season: with this heat, wearing a Hufflepuff scarf (apparently I would be in this school) didn’t even cross my mind!

 

The rides

I will detail below the attractions I got to try with or without the Express pass 7: obviously I didn’t have time to try them all: the closed ones (my big regret: Jurassic Park), the ones too intense for me (even though Japanese are not well-know for hardcore rollercoasters) and also because of the time flying!

But the Express Pass 7 allowed us to experience the park in an optimal way without waiting more than 5 minutes at each one (saying it again but really it was amazing!)

  • PRETTY GUARDIAN SAILOR MOON: THE MIRACLE 4D : I really loved the 4D show with 3D glasses and water/air/heat in the main theater. The transformation scenes are particularly nice to watch in 3D: a total immersion in one of the the Sailor Moon adventure.

  • HARRY POTTER AND THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY : I already told you everything: a must-do !
  • FLIGHT OF THE HIPPOGRIFF : this one was included in the Express Pass but if it’s not your case just pass this one: it’s a kind of super slow rollercoaster without real sensation and very short (not even 1minute… even though I saw a 2-hour line!)

Flight of the Hippogriff : Pass this !

 

  • LUPIN THE THIRD CAR CHASE XR RIDE : my favorite one with Harry Potter, very original, and good sensations (not too strong though). With an augmented reality cask, you’ll ride Lupin’s car for a crazy chase where the real and virtual sensation are perfectly mixing! This is not only a virtual car simulator: you really feel the movements (and the sensation). It’s impressive!

  • DESPICABLE ME MINION MAYHEM : a 3D tour where you will learn how to become a Minion. Nice without being unforgettable.

  • THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF SPIDERMAN : THE RIDE 4K3 : pretty similar to our Ratatouille at Disney but more active.

  • HOLLYWOOD DREAM THE RIDE : I almost skip this ride due to all the screams and the high fall-down in perspective.
    but I took my courage with two hands thinking that in Japan it shouldn’t be too hard. And indeed, it was alright: real sensation but the shock isn’t strong and the fact that we can choose the song to listen during the tour probably helped me! (Taylor Swift “Shake or Off” for me and “Beat it” for my SO).

You can also choose to do it backwards but NO WAY for me… just letting you know if you like it.

The rides I didn’t tried but that might worse the detour (depending how you like sensations!)

  • THE FLYING DINOSAUR : thank god this one was not included in our Express Pass as it might be the worst in terms of sensations in this park. A huge rollercaster very high and fast that gives you the impression to fly over the park rotating up and down. You can watch videos on YouTube if you want to have an idea: I think I couldn’t never dare trying.
  • JURASSIC PARK THE RIDE : As I said, I regret I couldn’t try this one as it was closed that day: apparently you need to be prepared to get wet at the end of the ride!
  • WATERWORLD : a show with explosions and fire that I had already seen in Los Angeles a while ago.
  • GODZILLA VS EVANGELION 4D : in the same theater as Sailor Moon: I can imagine the same style of show but different theme.

There are much more too try, some more for kids and others looking more like a fair (around and in the Minions world for instance): I let you discover this by yourself!

 

The Shows

Unless you stay 2 days in the park, I don’t know how you can do attractions and shows. However, we managed to arrange our schedule to attend 2 shows at the end of the day:

 

HOGWARTS MAGICAL CELEBRATION

A projection of lights on Hogwarts castle with small scenes performed by so-called Hogwarts students (I was expecting them to be Harry Potter or Hermione for instance it would have spiced up the show!).

A bit disappointed by this pretty short show, without fireworks (it would have been beautiful with the reflection in the lake!) nor parade.

 

THE NIGHT PARADE : THE BEST OF HOLLYWOOD

Much better. It’s actually here that we can see the cars with Harry Potter (The Hogwarts Express is pretty well done), Minions, Transformers and Jurassic Park.

I found it less magical than the TokyoDisneyland parade (less performers maybe) but it still a good show to end a very full day!

 

MISC tips

Here are my advices to fully enjoy the day. :

  • Visit the park during weekdays (we chose Thursday) and not during Japanese holidays.
  • Arrive at least 30-45 mn before the gate opening, with your printed tickets.
  • Double check the opening time of the park on the Internet official site, it might change from one day to another (usually it opens around 8:30am)
  • Wear proper clothes depending on the weather: not much areas with shadow so better carry a (bucket) hat and a bottle of water if you go during summer time! You won’t loose anything during the attractions, Japanese thought about everything, even elastics to hold your open shoes such as Birkenstock’s or flip flop.
  • If you chose an Express Pass, make sure to follow the time scheduled for the different attractions and during free times, enjoy other attractions or have lunch. We got the chance to have some time when we arrived so we went straight to the Sailor Moon adventure.
  • If you don’t have an Express Pass, be quick from the opening and go right away to get your ticket for the Harry Potter world and do the attractions as “single riders” to wait less… but you will experience it alone which might not be as fun.
  • It isn’t allowed to bring your own picnic in the park (no choice but to eat inside) so have a look before hand where to have lunch… we already knew we would be inside Harry Potter world during lunch time so we chose the Three Broomsticks but they are plenty of other places in the park: (Park side Grill in New York) and Asian food restaurants (Saido in New York and The Dragon’s Pearl in San Francisco)
  • The food is average (to my opinion less good compared to DisneySea for exemple) but the Japanese care remains and it’s always nice to eat a menu with a special theme: my Sailor Moon ice cream had a better taste than a regular one, no doubt! Haha!

We cannot resist a Hello Kitty bánh bao, right ?

 

I hope I was able to help you out with all the planning for your visit at Universal Studios Japan even though I couldn’t myself try everything (attractions, food, etc). But somehow I had a good overview thanks to the fast-pass tickets.

If you’ve already been to the park in the US then it might not be a must-go as they are a lot of common attractions but it’s always nice to try Japanese’s theme park styles… even though it might have an impact on your budget we must admit!

Feel free to ask all the questions in the comments below if anything is unclear, I will answer with pleasure! And I will prepare the next article soon with all my good addresses in Osaka! (English translation by Quiterie)

15 Comments

  1. Reply

    Maïlys

    Bravo pour cet article complet et passionnant ! C’est toujours un plaisir de te lire
    Je pars au Japon en avril avec mon mari et mes 2 enfants qui auront un peu plus de 5 ans et 3 ans. Disney et Universal Studio font partie du voyage quelles attractions me conseilles-tu pour les enfants parmi celles que tu as faites ?
    Merci !
    Hâte de lire tes prochains articles. Je m’inspire déjà des anciens pour planifier notre voyage

    • Reply

      Tokyobanhbao

      Merci pour ton message !
      Alors pour les enfants de 5 et 3 ans je te conseille d’ores et déjà le monde des Minions (et l’attraction que j’ai faite), la partie du parc avec snoopy, hello Kitty et Sesame Street (il y a plein de petits manèges pour petits là bas), sailor moon en 4D peut être bien aussi, hippogriffe( si tu as le pass et uniquement dans ce cas là !! Car les enfants peuvent aimer être dans ce train(qui n’a pas vraiment d’intérêt niveau sensation autrement)

      Il y’a le monde de Jurassic park qui peut être intéressant si ils aiment les dinosaures : l’attraction doit être jouable pour des enfants aussi (avec une petite chute à la fin d’après ce que j’ai vu)

      Et pour Disney, je te laisse regarder mes précédents articles mais il y a pleins d’attractions faisables pour les plus petits sachant que les japonais ne sont pas friands de grosses sensations à Disney.
      Voilà ! J’espère avoir pu t’éclairer !

  2. Reply

    Alex

    Oh ton super article me rappelle ma visite de 2015 !
    J’ai attendu 3h pour 5 minutes pour The Forbidden Journey et j’ai fait le Hollywood Dream dans les deux sens. Une grave erreur, j’étais bien mal après haha

    Merci pour ces belles images

    • Reply

      Tokyobanhbao

      Oh la la quelle patience ! Et quel courage pour Hollywood dream hahaha !

  3. Reply

    Kelly Wes

    Merci pour cet article tant attendu !
    ça donne troOop envie mais je me tâte encore à l’inclure dans mon prochain séjour par ce que bon c’est un bon budget quand même. Et en même temps je veux trop un tshirt Sailor Moon, prendre des photos avec mes personnages préférés (oui oui j’ai 6 ans même si ça ne se voit pas) et puis l’univers Potter quoi…

    • Reply

      Tokyobanhbao

      Oui c’est vraiment un budget non négligeable ! Je te comprends ! Nous on s’est dit qu’on visiterait peut être pas deux fois ce parc dans notre vie donc on a préféré mettre le paquet pour en profiter un max ! (Même si on s’est dit qu’on nous prenait quand même pour des jambons ;-))

  4. Reply

    Lalouette

    Bravo pour ce commentaire utile et bien écrit ainsi que les jolies photos qui vont avec!

  5. Reply

    Cathie

    Bonjour,
    Perso. je ne suis pas du tout attirée par les parcs d’attraction quels qu’ils soient ! MAIS je suis ravie et je te remercie pour ce nouveau post, inattendu car je pensais que tu reprendrais contact après le 18 (voir le post d’avant) et de tes photos superbes toujours si agréables à regarder, qui rendent compte d’un phénomène de société qui traverse tous les pays !
    Bonne soirée,
    Cathie

    • Reply

      Tokyobanhbao

      Je suis toujours fidèle au poste, restant à Paris en été 🙂
      ravie que tu y trouves ton compte même si ce n’est pas ta tasse de thé ! Bel été à toi !

  6. Reply

    Musme

    Merci pour ce joli article qui fait rêver. Je dois avouer que je ne suis pas fan d’Harry Potter. J’ai été élevé par un papa fan de science-fiction et de fantastique. Du coup, quand Harry Potter est sorti, je n’ai pas accroché. Mais même sans trop apprécier les livres et films, je suis tentée par les parcs d’attraction. Ils sont tellement beaux. Et je crois que je finirai par lire les livres, pour ma culture générale.
    Et comme toujours, félicitations pour les photos et les illustrations.

  7. Reply

    Minitarta

    C’est fou, a la lecture de cet article j’ai quand même l’impression que c’est VRAIMENT différent de la floride… du coup j’ai envie d’y aller maintenant !!! Pas totalement les mêmes attractions, sailor moon… Par contre c’est quoi ce délire de pas laisser tout le monde aller à poudlard ??? après ça évite peut être les queues interminables (le mois dernier à Orlando, 240min de queue pour la nouvelles attraction d’Hagrid… j’ai passé mon tour…)
    En tout cas merci pour ton article, nul doute qu’il sera utile quand je reviendrai au Japon ! (Pour l’heure je me prépare à Tokyo disneysea dans quelques jours hihihiiii excitation !)
    Merci Tokyo !

    • Reply

      Tokyobanhbao

      ah oui il y a des variantes locales entre la Floride et Osaka !
      Pour ce qui est de l’espace Poudlard, ça dépend des jours en fait, cette restriction mais je ne voulais pas prendre le risque de louper l’accès ! (et je crois que ce n’était pas en accès restreint lors de notre passage finalement) : cela dit beaucoup de file d’attente quand même (certains me parlent de 3h d’attente !) d’où l’obligation de prendre ce express pass dans tous les cas.
      et ravie d’avoir vu que mes articles tokyodisneysea t’ont servi pour ce voyage !

  8. Reply

    Laura

    Salut !
    Je suis tombée par hasard sur ton article et tu es, à toi toute seule, BEAUCOUP plus claire que tous les sites internet marchands où l’on peut acheter des tickets ! En tout cas, pour une française comme moi ^^
    L’histoire des pass était très confuse pour moi et tu as rendu ça plus limpide !
    J’envisage de prendre mes billets sur voyagin, et j’en profite pour te poser plusieurs questions si tu peux m’éclairer davantage :
    – Lorsque je souhaite prendre un billet entrée simple, il est noté “Catégorie A”. Quelles sont les autres catégories ? Et quelle est la différence ?
    – Je souhaiterais plus partir sur un pass 7 attractions et je vois qu’il y en a plusieurs. Si j’ai bien saisi, la différence entre tous ces pass 7 est uniquement la liste d’attractions choisie, c’est bien ça ? Le prix des pass 7 varie donc en fonction des attractions choisies ?
    Merci pour tes réponses, et félicitations ton blog est une véritable aide !

    • Reply

      Tokyobanhbao

      Hello ! Ravie que tu trouves ça clair 🙂
      Alors pour répondre à tes questions :
      – Pour les catégories, je crois que ça se met automatiquement en fonction de la date que tu as choisie (si je ne dis pas de bêtises) c’est à dire que c’est une catégorie qui prend en compte un tarif en fonction de l’affluence et de la période.
      -Pour le pass 7 ils varient en fonction de la nature des attractions choisies : si tu cliques dessus tu vois la liste des attractions incluses dans ton Pass 7 et le prix a l’air de varier en effet en fonction des attractions choisies (ceux contenant HP doivent certainement être plus chers )… mais il y a 4 pass 7 au même prix (je viens de regarder)

      j’espère avoir pu aider ! Bons préparatifs !

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