Although I am not a fan of theme parks, I am glad that we had made a trip to Universal Studios Japan (USJ) when we travelled to Osaka. I finally understood why it is a must-visit attraction in Osaka after spending a day there.
Our very own Universal Studios back home in Singapore is pale in comparison to the Universal Studios in Japan. The theme park in Japan is probably twice as large as the one in Singapore and there are so much more fun and exciting things to do here. In addition, there’s an extra spark of Universal magic here that would easily entice anyone.
1. Getting to Universal Studios Japan is super convenient
There’s a direct JR Line train that goes from Osaka station to Universal City Station where Universal Studios Japan is located. From the station, you will just need to make a straight walk down the huge walkway, past this huge shopping mall on your right. You can easily get to the theme park in less than 30 minutes from central Osaka. This is unlike other theme parks in other countries where they are usually located at a remote location. Getting to the theme park itself would probably require you to change train or buses and all these transitions will eat up your time.
2. Ticket Prices are slightly more expensive but you can get it cheaper elsewhere
A 1-day ticket typically costs about SGD 100 but we managed to get a 1-for-1 ticket deal via Klook so we saved quite a bit! So we highly recommend that you purchase your tickets from Klook especially whenever there’s a sale or any online deals.
If you want to skip the queues, you can purchase their express tickets. With the express tickets, you don’t have to wait in line for a ride. And you can easily cover the whole theme park in less than 6 hours. But nonetheless, it is best to stay in the park till late so that you can catch the parade.
3. Hollywood Boulevard is a party town!
To visit the various attractions and zones, you will have to walk through Hollywood Boulevard. This is also where all the Universal Studio characters will do their meet-and-greet with visitors. You might get distracted with all the colourful and attractive storefronts that popped up along the street. But do try to stay focus because there is so much more stuff to explore at Universal Studios Japan!
4. Walking into Wizarding World of Harry Potter makes you feel like you’re part of a movie
Upon reaching Universal Studios Japan, the first place we checked out was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s one of the attractions in the park which you mustn’t miss so I would highly advise you to cover this attraction first. It really feels kind of magical – like you are part of the Harry Potter movie set.
We also took their award-winning ride called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The queue was super long and we had to wait for like an hour or so before we could get in. Once we got into this dungeon-looking place, we had to get a number tag and place our belongings in the allocated locker. Little did we know that we were in for a spectacular ride! It was a truly immersive experience where we were virtually ‘flying on the broomstick’ to escape from the dementor. You will feel as if you’re on an indoor roller coaster ride where you’re getting swayed from side to side. There were also a lot of unexpected twists and turns throughout the ride which provided visitors with an element of surprise.
5. They serve warm non-alcoholic Butterbeer!
If you haven’t tried butterbeer, you’re truly missing out the best things in life. This wizarding beverage is a popular drink among Hogwarts students. It has this sweet caramelised taste which resembles butterscotch. You can but it frozen, cold or hot. Since the weather was chilly, we ordered a cup of hot butterbeer and it was lovely.
We bought a cup of hot butterbeer for 800 yen which works out to be about SGD 10. Pricey, I know but definitely worth a try. You can purchase the butterbeer in a Christmas mug or Premium stein for photos but you know you will end up chucking the cup aside in your cupboard or store to collect dust.
6. Experience more magic in the Ollivanders™ wand shop and if you’re lucky, you might get a free magic wand too!
Before you enter the wand shop, make sure you go for the attraction show right next to the wand shop in order to experience the magic of ‘the wand choosing the wizard.’ If you’re lucky, you might get picked to receive a free magic wand!
7. Relive your childhood memories at Universal Wonderland
Even if you’re no longer a kid, you will feel an instant boost in your mood just by being at Universal Wonderland. From Hello Kitty, Snoopy to Sesame Street, you’ll get to relive your childhood moments as you wander around the various zones.
The theme park also has pop-up food stalls selling hot snacks like churros and hotdogs. The Hello Kitty Churros we tried was surprisingly quite good.
8. The food is albeit expensive but relatively good.
Some theme park food may taste very average but not here at Universal Studios Japan. The food we had were so far quite good. For lunch, we dined at Mel’s Drive-in and ordered the burger set meal that came with fries. The set meals cost about SGD 20 on average. Even though it is somewhat expensive but the food was decent. Besides, the service there was good. The staff even made the effort to have a small talk with me. Knowing that it was my first visit to USJ, the cashier actually gave me a USJ sticker to commemorate this special day. They really make me felt welcomed.
If you are not into American fast food, you can check out Saido, a Japanese restaurant in the New York area or The Dragon’s Pearl, a Chinese restaurant in the San Francisco area.
9. Every attraction has an element of surprise
As we walked from zone to zone, we realised how each attraction has its own distinct features. And every ride and show we have been to, has got this element of surprise in it. We’ll never know what’s going to happen next or what’s in store for us. This is exactly what a theme park should be like – a place where you get transported to another world through time and space.
Some of the best thrilling rides we took are The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man 4K3D ride and the Jurassic Park water ride where you’ll be on a boat that makes a 25.9 metres drop!
The most thrilling ride of all is probably ‘The Flying Dinosaur’ roller coaster ride. Once you are up in the air, your chairs will be tilted in a manner where your body leans forward in a ‘flying superman position’. This roller coaster ride is the world’s longest track (1124 metres) and farthest initial drop of 37.8 metres!
But I dislike roller coaster ride, so I did not go for it. My fiancé, Samuel went ahead with The Flying Dinosaur ride while I explore other parts of the theme park. He mentioned that it is one of the best thrilling rides he had sat!
10. They sell exclusive Character merchandise with a local twist which makes great souvenirs.
Want to bring home souvenirs or gifts which are sold exclusively at USJ? How about some Spider-man ramen? Get these Spider-man cup noodles for your friend who loves Spider-man.
And if you’re visiting USJ soon, here are some tips!
Get to USJ early in the morning and try to cover The Wizarding World of Harry Potter first because it can get very crowded.
What not to miss!
Our must-try USJ theme park rides (if you’re adventurous at heart) are Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hollywood Dream – the ride back-drop (a backwards roller coaster!), Jurassic Park – the ride and The Flying Dinosaur.
If you’re not into thrilling rides, you can go for show attractions like Sing on tour and Terminator 2:3-D. The Terminator super 3D show was really awesome and I enjoyed it a lot. I was truly amazed by the whole performance that is infused with some live action.
How to save money when spending a day at USJ?
To save some money, you can buy some snacks from Lawson’s before heading to USJ. But since you can’t bring food into USJ as they will be checking your bags, you got to think flexibly. Instead of packing them into your bags, stuff them into your pockets. They did not check out winter coats so I managed to sneak in a packet of candy.
After watching the Universal Spectacular Night parade and fireworks, you can head to the restaurants also USJ for dinner. The food outside USJ is much cheaper.
We went to this self-service Udon restaurant called Kineya Mugimaru for some curry udon and tempura. They serve really good and affordable homemade udon noodles that are delicious.
Last but not least, let your hall down, drop your fears and be wild and free at USJ. That’s how you can enjoy yourself in a theme park to the fullest. Even though I did not really like the thought of going to a theme park, but I really truly enjoyed myself in USJ.
You can also read more of my recent travelogues in Kyoto and Osaka too.
Watch my Japan vlog below!