Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is one of Osaka’s main attractions, attracting more than 11 million people every year, but it reached the height of its popularity after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWOHP) was opened to the public in the summer of 2014. Naturally, as a Harry Potter fan myself, I had to visit USJ when I went to Osaka over the spring break. I did read about USJ before I went there, but most of what I experienced was completely unexpected. To make sure that your time there is as good as it can be, I compiled a short, frank list of tips about Universal Studios Japan and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Before we flew to Osaka, our family wanted to go to USJ on Friday but was unable to make any final decisions because the weather forecasts predicted that it would be a rainy day. We had to go either on Friday or on Saturday. Saturday wasn’t supposed to rain, but we knew that weekends brought more visitors. In the end, we went to USJ on Friday and didn’t regret it. Yes, it rained, but our umbrellas protected us well. Even on a rainy weekday, the park was packed. Everland and Lotte World wouldn’t stand a chance against the swarming crowds of Universal Studios; I don’t want to imagine how many people there would be on sunny weekends. USJ is actually visited by more Japanese people than tourists, so on weekends when there’s no school or work, you can expect to see more visitors than attractions.
My family arrived to the park at 8 in the morning, thirty minutes before it was to open. We thought that we came pretty early, but when we arrived, we saw huge lines in front of the entrances. We were only able to enter at around 8:45. Most people bought their Studio Passes, or entry tickets, online, so they were able to line up in front of the entrances right away. I would recommend buying your pass beforehand if you don’t want any delays on the day of. Here’s a special tip: the line in the middle moves faster, so if you’re keen on getting in quickly, sneak into that one.
Plus, if you come in around the time that the park opens, you’ll be greeted by all of the USJ workers standing along the edge of the road. The workers really do genuinely seem happy and devoted to USJ, which is quite welcoming for us tourists.
Express Passes are convenient ticket that let you enjoy popular attractions once with shortened waiting times. They also can be used to guarantee a spot for viewing the parade. Express Passes can be purchased on the day at the park, but are available only while supplies last; most will not be available on the day if they are sold out beforehand. There are different Express Passes that shorten waiting times for different attractions, so make sure to check out the different options before making a final choice.
Many Koreans buy them up to a month in advance because they sell out quickly. My family, again, was not able to buy them earlier because we didn’t know which day we would end up visiting the theme park. When we went to the ticket booth on Friday, we realized that most of the passes were already sold out, so we bought Express Pass 4 ~The Flying Dinosaur~.
The Express Passes allowed us to enjoy our time there because we never had to wait more than 10 minutes for any of the attractions we rode. The only drawback was that the Express Passes are quite pricey; the cheapest option is 4,500 yen with tax (about $40.51), and the most expensive one is 20,700 yen with tax (about $186.35). To enter the park, however, you also need a separate Studio Pass, which is 7,600 yen with tax (about $68.42) for adults. The waiting times for more popular rides can climb over 100 minutes, so if you don’t mind paying a little extra money, Express Passes will really enhance your experience at USJ. If you have specific attractions that you really want to ride, buying the Express Pass earlier will be a strategic choice.
One thing I noticed at Universal was that everything is expensive. The passes, the food, the clothes, the souvenirs – everything was very overpriced. Out of all of the worlds, however, WWOHP had the most expensive items. The Hogwarts robe was over $100, and the wands was also about $50. Universal knew that devoted fans will buy these goods despite the costs, so they set the price very high.
But if you are on a vacation and you don’t plan on coming to Osaka again anytime soon, you might as well spend some money on things you want to buy. Just remember to be aware of how much money you are spending so that you still have enough money to enjoy the rest of your stay at Japan!
If you ever get to visit Universal Studios Japan, just refer to these tips. As a person who was just as confused and uninformed as any other person before this trip, I promise that they will help guide you around the theme park.
– Kristin Kim (’20)
Featured Image: onozomi.com
List headers designed by Crescentia Jung (’19)