Well.. here we are again at Universal Studios Japan!
For those who don’t know (but who dosen’t?), Universal Studios Japan in Osaka is a popular tourist spot great for families to spend a day.
But having been there, I feel the lack of crowd control is a major draw back to some, because rides are always having very long queues.
However, long queues are something everyone is accustomed to and most will usually stand in line patiently, awaiting their turn.
Universal Studios is next to the JR UniversalCity train station.
Take the Osaka Loop line (大阪环状线) to Nishikujo station (西九条站) and wait for the JR Yumesaki line (JR ゆめ咲線) in the middle platform.You may get to board the special Universal Studios decorated train if you’re really lucky!
Upon reaching, we went straight for the Spiderman ride first. There was already a 90 mins waiting time as soon as we got there!
We decided to put Spiderman on hold and went to check out the Jurassic Park ride first. This ride usually has very long wait times. Luckily for us, the signboard showed 15 mins waiting time and that was a steal!
Bargaining with time, WTF?
Having tried the Jurassic Park ride in Singapore, I find a few differences between the two.
The boats have rows of front facing seats compared to circular seating in Universal Studios Singapore
. The plunge towards the end also felt higher in the Japanese version and the details of the Jurassic scenery is more realistic too.
Don’t forget to bring along extra clothing or newspaper if you do not like to get wet. There are always ponchos for rent, however.
After Jurassic Park, we took a walk back to the other side of the park where the Spiderman ride was at, only to find out that the waiting time was now 120 mins.
After 120 mins (and what seemed like forever), it was finally our turn to ride!
Thee ride was a 4×4 car on rails. It showcases 4D effects while you follow Spiderman around fighting the baddies. Personally I do not think there is anything scary in turns of plunging heights and stuff.
Even the scene of you moving up and falling down to the streets was basically a visual effect. The visual effects however are spectacular, there were fire, wind and even water effects to get you immersed in the ride!
Spiderman was of course narrating in Japanese if you have not guessed as much.
After our ride with Spiderman, we made our way to the Monsters Rock and Roll live performance, a 30 mins show with songs from Bon Jovi and Christina Aguilera.
Monsters Rock is basically a show where you’re seated in a theater
Here, you watch a live performance and other then the songs, the normal dialogue between characters are in Japanese.
Space Fantasy: The Ride, was next.
Being very close to Spiderman with only a 20 min waiting time, we wasted no time and bolted straight for it. I would like to add that Space Fantasy: The Ride, is actually my favorite ride in USJ.
The reason? It’s not scary or anything but simply because it trips your balls out!
Next, we made our way to the docks to catch the performance of the day, Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular.
This powerful show reproduces the thrill of WaterWorld, the adventure movie starring Kevin Costner. I was breathless and taken away by the high-tech sound effects, explosions, boats racing around at high speed and other action.
The large set reproduces the marine base and spectacular battle scene as you saw them in the movie! Motorboats and jet skies race at high speed and spectacular stunts happen one after another while pillars of flame burst out from the water, with sprays of water spewing all over the area!
And then the surprising climax in which over 50 special effects and pyrotechnics create a dynamic ending!
After the performance, we skipped to the nearby Jaws ride which had a 30 mins waiting time. Waiting in the queue didn’t seem long at all.
Everyone knows “Jaws” the movie. In this powerful attraction, Jaws suddenly pops up in front of your eyes just when you thought that the ocean was safe. The suddenness of Jaws and the vivid acting of the captain seemed to put us in a trance.
It took a while for the little one to calm down after she got off of the boat!
To put it simply, it was a boat ride, complete with special effects and stuff and no photo taking was allowed on board.
A very short and quick ride and the fire effects especially, were fantastic.
Finally, it’s time to highlight the day for our kid; Universal Wonderland!!
Universal Wonderland is an area of the park which she really wanted to visit.
This large area comprises of 3 avenues; each of the avenues contains their own attractions.
Universal Wonderland: Hello Kitty Fashion Avenue
Hello Kitty’s Cupcake Dream
Hello Kitty’s Ribbon Collection
Universal Wonderland: Sesame Street Fun World
Elmo’s Imagination Playland:
Elmo’s Bubble Bubble
Abby’s Magical Party
Moppy’s Lucky Dance Party
Big Bird’s Big Nest
Grover’s Construction Company
Bert and Ernie’s Wonder-The Sea
Sesame Central Park:
Sesame’s Big Drive
Big Bird’s Climbing Nest
Abby’s Magical Tree
Abby’s Magical Garden
Cookie Monster Slide
Ernie’s Rubber Duckie Race
Sesame Street Plaza:
Elmo’s Little Drive
Big Bird’s Big Top Circus
Universal Wonderland: Snoopy Studios
Snoopy’s Great Race
Peppermint Patty’s Stunt Slide
The Flying Snoopy
Universal Wonderland actually feels like a totally different, separate park. Although a part of USJ, it doesn’t blend very well with it. But that’s not to say that it isn’t “nice”, as the place is really pretty and well worth a visit!
Elmos’s Imagination Playland was first, everyone loves Elmo, right?
Elmos’s Imagination Playland has “Elmo’s Bubble Bubble” and five other attractions.
Since the floors are made from a soft material, parents will feel at ease when their children play here.
Everything is indoors, and you don’t have to worry about the hot weather in the summer or cold days during winter!
The “Flying Snoopy” ride is an attraction that’s aimed at kids.
Located in “Universal Wonderland, staff from 11 countries around the world worked together to create the town-scape where you can see many popular characters.
You will really be surprised by the outstanding quality of everything you see!
There are plenty of food options here and most of them are very eye-catching too!
Another highlight is the “Bento” boxes, essentially lunchboxes that looks so cute you may not even bear to eat it! Of course, many other food options are available too.
The spaghetti set with meat sauce in the lunch boxes is exceptionally cute, that you may prefer to just look, rather than eat it!? This lunch set comes with a Snoopy rare cheese cake with a desert plate.
You can take the all the dishes home with you as a souvenir, including the lunch bowl!
After exiting the kids play area in the Sesame Street Fun Zone, we looped back around to join the forwards queue for Hollywood Dream, which posted an accurate five-minute wait time.
While in line, we were handed two large, purple rubber bands to strap our shoes to our feet.
A small touch, but one that helps you keep your belongings while saving valuable loading time.
Hollywood Dream – The Ride, provides a thrill, though far from terrifying. Hollywood Dream features a drop of 141 feet and a max speed of 56 mph, but boasts a nice upward helix near the end.
There’s no real theme to Hollywood Dream, neither at the station or on the tracks. The interesting bit, of course, is that you get to choose your on-board soundtrack from 5 options.
For our visit, those included “Celebration” by Madonna and “Numb” by Usher. Hollywood Dream’s soundtrack choice matched the ride’s movements nicely.
At night, the trains look pretty cool with their moving LED lights zooming through the sky.
As someone who loves roller coasters, I recommend “Hollywood Dream – The Ride”. It is very exhilarating to be on this ride while listening to your choice of Hip Hop, classical, J-Pop and other background music that you’re sure to love.
Before we knew it, the sun had already set and the park was about to close its door for the day, soon.
Sigh, time really does fly when you’re enjoying yourselves!
We left the park and spent the rest of the night at Universal CityWalk.
What is Universal CityWalk, you might ask?
Universal CityWalk is the name given to the entertainment and retail districts located adjacent to the theme parks of Universal Parks & Resorts.
Originating as an expansion of Universal’s first park, Universal Studios Hollywood, CityWalk now serves as an entrance plaza from the parking lots to the Universal Studios theme parks.
CityWalk can also be found at the Universal Orlando Resort, in the USA.
As for the Universal Citywalk in Osaka, it is a commercial complex located between JR Universal City Station and Universal Studios Japan.
The facility is eclectic mix of entertainment, fun, fine dining and specialty shops. Street entertainers perform in front of the facility almost every day.
Universal CityWalk Osaka
, offers everything from Hello Kitty goods to Italian
In addition to the large number of stores, you’ll also find a variety of dining options, including fast food and sit-down restaurants. There’s also a small quirky Takoyaki museum
which showcases the deep-fried octopus balls – of course, you can eat Takoyaki
shops are gathered in the Takoyaki Museum
, on the fourth floor which also exhibits the history and utensils of Osaka’s popular local food.
There is also a Hard Rock Cafe in Universal CityWalk Osaka that plays good music and serves equally good food too!
If you’re interested, take a look at some quick tips before you go!
Tickets can be bought in advance at USJ or Osaka train station. It can be purchased at Shin-Osaka station too. Highly recommended to do so especially if you are visiting on a weekend and skip the long ticketing queues!
For online purchase, unless you can read Japanese because only the Japanese website allows online purchase. You also need to have a Japanese credit card or address, at least.
You will be given a brochure upon ticket purchase. Both English and Japanese versions are very different. The English version is simply a map, but the Japanese version is a booklet which describes each location and even any special event ongoing, which will be useful to know where the special events are happening. So be sure to ask for the more detailed guide if you can read Japanese.
All introductions and narratives, including shows, are in Japanese. So if that matters to you, take that into consideration should you decide to go for any shows.