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Universal Studios Japan tips | Harry Potter & more

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Useful guide to visit Universal Studios Japan in one day and on a budget. With juicy tips on how to find your tickets and how to make sure you won’t miss anything!

Hogwart Express train in Hogsmeade at Universal Studios Japan
The amazing Hogwarts Express train also takes part in the night parade at Universal Studios Japan!

Are you planning a trip to Osaka? Geek much? Do you like amusement parks and Harry Potter? If you answered yes to at least to one of those questions, we’re sure our Universal Studios Japan tips will be super useful to plan your visit.
Let’s see what happens when you let two hardcore geeks into one of the most amazing amusement parks in the world!

Minions from Despicable Me Gift Shop on a wall installation at Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)
Minion Park is definitely one of the most colorful areas at Universal Studios Japan!

Universal Studios Japan in Osaka is the land where everything is possible, and where every Potterhead in the world should go at least once in their life.

It had been on our bucket list for such a long time, and we were super-happy to be able to visit, even if we were in Japan during one of the warmest summers ever.

While I’m usually a big kid that can’t contain herself when it comes to theme parks or cosplay events, Aldo is way less unbiased. We are both enthusiastic people, yet he’s the one who usually has to bring me down to Earth when I feel over excited about something.

Our visit to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka was on my birthday and I had big plans, even if it was scorching hot, the humid warmth was melting us and we knew that the crowds were going to be huge.

As soon as we saw the enormous spinning globe at the park entrance I was already jumping up and down. I mean… come on, everyone has read about the wonders of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, right?

Our Whatsapp was on fire: friends and relatives from Italy kept on sending messages. Could we share some pictures? A short video? Did it live up to the hype?

We’ll get to that in a moment, in our guide to the best Universal Studios Japan tips (field-tested).

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Staff members playing with kids at Minions Space Killer, USJ
The staff members were amazing: always ready to play with everyone. The kids loved them!

I first want to add a short note because there was something we both were very impressed with.

As we mentioned already, we visited when it was scorching hot.
While walking in the park, the humidity rate was through the roof. And yet the Universal Studios Japan staff kept on smiling.
Gosh, they were amazing.

Even the always-serious Al had to acknowledge the fact that these men and women were doing an incredible job. Always smiling, welcoming everyone, acting the part, dancing away under the sun.

We could say it was hard but they were genuinely happy whenever a kid smiled at them. And gosh, the way they danced, or acted while dressed up as our favorite characters… priceless!

Absolutely, hats off: the Universal Studios Japan is top level, always works hard and makes sure everyone has a lot of fun. So yes, they absolutely live up to the hype!

Jurassic Park The Ride at USK Osaka Entrance
You won’t need an extra pass to access Jurassic Park The Ride

Universal Studios Japan tickets – Info and prices

Buying tickets in advance for Universal Studios Japan can be a tad bit difficult if you intend to do it online… unless you can read Japanese or you want to order from a travel agency.

1 day Studio pass costs 7,800 yen for adults, 5,400 yen for children (from 4 to 11), and 7,100 yen for seniors over 65.
All the prices include tax.

If you plan to visit on two consecutive days, then you will get a discounted price of 15,400 yen for adults and 10,500 yen for children, for a 2 day Studio pass (as of 2021).

To this you might have to add the travel agency costs. The most reliable online sellers are JTB, Viator or Get Your Guide.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All ticket sales through travel agencies are temporarily suspended as of April 3, 2020.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle at USJ Osaka
You can see Hogwarts from far away: it’s impressive!

Buying tickets online – How to

We promised some juicy Universal Studios Japan tips, didn’t we? Well, then let us tell you that there is a way for you to buy the tickets online without having to go through a dealer. You will only need to carefully follow the following steps:

  • Become a member of Universal Studios Japan Club
  • Go to the USJ shop in Japanese (get the help of Google translate or Chrome translator for better understanding)
  • Choose the ticket date (when you want to go to the park)
  • Add the Studio Pass of your choice to the shopping cart and ask to get e-tickets with QR codes in stead than having them shipped
  • If you want to buy an Express Pass (more on this on the following paragraph), choose the type you want and the time slots for the timed attractions of your choice
  • Add the Express Pass to your shopping cart (select again to get e-tickets)
  • Choose the payment method
  • Enter your payment details and finalize
  • Within minutes you will receive the e-tickets by email!
Water splashing on a chart with people inside at a Jurassic World ride, Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)
Someone found a neat way to chill out it seems!

Universal Express Pass

The Universal Express Pass is an additional ticket that can be bought after you buy a Studio Pass (they can be bought at the same time, also if you get them online).

On its own a Universal Express Pass it won’t allow you to enter the park. So make sure you bring both a Studio Pass and an Express Pass to access Universal Studios Japan.

Also if you have bought a 2 day Studio Pass, your Express pass will be valid only for the day printed on the ticket, just that one day, not two.

This ticket lets you enjoy specific attractions with shortened wait times, and it can be used to guarantee a good viewing spot for the night parade.

A very important thing to remember is that every Express Pass includes a timed entry ticket to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Sadly, both the Express Passes and the Harry Potter World at the park are available only while supplies last!

There are different types of Express Passes and the price obviously changes according to what you’re going to buy. Express Passes can cover 3, 4 or 7 attractions.

You get to choose which ones you want to ride, and when.
This means that you will have to make sure you know which attractions are your absolute must do, so you won’t be wasting precious time (and money).

Detective Conan Merchandise sold at USJ Osaka
Detective Conan merchandise sold at Universal Studios Japan for a special event

But how does an Express Pass work?

Once you’ve bought it, you can print your list of attractions and timings. There’s a different time window for each one of those.

You have to make sure to be at the attraction within your time window, and follow the line for those who have bought a Express Pass. Staff members will ask you to see your express ticket so keep it at hand!

The lines will be considerably faster: we managed to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in about 10 minutes. So using an Express Pass allows you to spend less time in line and to enjoy more attractions. It’s not something that many Japan theme parks do!

One of the best tips for visiting Universal Studios Japan we were given was thus to get the Express Pass. While it is more expensive, it is definitely a life-saver if you’re only buying a 1 day Studio Pass!

The Universal Studios Osaka entrance gate
The Universal Studios Japan entrance gate is at 5 minutes from the Universal City station

How to get to Universal Studios Japan

To go to Universal Studios Osaka using a Japan Rail Pass you need to hop on the JR Yumesaki Line (also referred to as JR Sakurajima Line), and get down at Universal City station. There’s a pleasant 5 minutes walk to from the station to the park entrance.

In case you don’t have a JRP, you can take one of the direct trains from Osaka Station. There’s more or less one every 15 minutes and tickets cost 180 yen. Make sure you always check the times also of last train for Osaka before you go, to make sure you know when you need to head back.

Universal Studios Japan also has a bus connection with Kansai Airport and Itami Airport.

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Park Opening hours

The Opening hours at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka can change without notice, so checking before you go is always a good idea (especially if you haven’t bought your tickets in advance and they start admission earlier on the day you want to visit: what if you can’t find any more timed tickets or Express Passes?).

The park usually opens between 8:30am and 9:30am. The closing time goes from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, with longer opening hours on weekends and bank holidays.

You can check the Universal Studios Japan opening hours on their official website.

A view of Hogsmeade in USJ from above. There's a butterbeer kiosk.
Butterbeer? Yes please! You’ll find plenty at Hogsmeade!

Harry Potter Universal Studios Japan

If you’re a Potterhead like us you’ll probably already know everything about the amazing Harry Potter area, but what USJ guide would this be if we didn’t talk about it for a moment?

Aaand… we really just had to get it off our chest. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Osaka is such an amazing place!!!

It all starts with a trail half hidden between the shrubs, where the sound effects already lure you into a world of magic.

Once you get to Hogsmeade… you’ll forget where you are. It truly feels like walking into the magical land created by the writer J. K. Rowling. With the huge train for Hogwarts (life size) on one side and the Ollivanders wand shop on the other, it truly feels like an immersive experience.

If you’re lucky (check the schedule you’ll be given upon entrance to the park), you’ll also see a few Hogwarts students walking around, maybe carrying their animated patronus!

Yes, the Osaka Universal Studios Japan in our opinion was worth a visit even just for their Harry Potter area: gosh, we felt like kids!

One note is that they only have a certain number of tickets for you to enjoy Hogsmeade. While they are absolutely free, they are very much needed during peak times.

The lines can be very long and to make sure that everyone enjoys their walk through the streets of Hogsmeade, the staff has to restrict entrance. With timed entry tickets you will know you can visit at a designated time.

USJ Guide - Sweet Surrender a candy shop in Minion Land at USJ
The Minions area at Universal Studios Japan is full of surprises…

How to get a timed entry ticket to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

There are two ways to get your hands on a timed entry ticket (again, it’s free!). One is by buying an Express Pass, because entrance to the Harry Potter area is always included (info on Express Passes can be found in a separate paragraph). And the other is by being smart and lucky once you visit the park.

To obtain a timed entry ticket to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the park, you have to make sure you’re at the parks gate way before they open, unless you already bought your Studio Pass online.

While the Studio Pass doesn’t include entrance to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you will still be able to avoid the line at the ticket booths.

As soon as the gates open, walk straight to the Harry Potter world. Near the entrance you will find the ticketing site.

To be able to book a timed entry ticket you will need the Studio Passes of all the members in your group. Choose the time you want to enter the area and print your entry tickets.

Remember that you cannot re-enter the area with the same timed entry ticket, and you can only get inside on the times clearly printed on the ticket.

Super Nintendo World Mario Kart ride at Universal Studios Japan
Mario Kart ride at Super Nintendo World. Image provided by Universal Studios Japan © Nintendo

New 2021: Super Nintendo World!

Universal Studios Japan will have the world’s first expansive Nintendo Theme Park Area: Super Nintendo World!

Visiting this exclusive theme park won’t require an extra ticket, and it’s going to be an immersive experience.

Even if you aren’t overly familiar with the Nintendo World, you’ll still have a lot of fun!

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Universal Studios Japan has recently unveiled its new ride, Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, located inside the majestic Bowser’s Castle.

You will have to put on a special headset which will take you through the Mario Kart Universe. Every vehicle can sit up to 4 people.

You will then ride through iconic courses of Mario Kart, with your favorite Nintendo characters. It’s a fully immersive ride, where you’ll even have to throw shells into the Mushroom Kingdom. Every race is brand new because you can win or lose, according to how good you’ll be.
No worries: it’s always a lot of fun, no matter what!

The inside of Bower's Castle at Super Nintendo World Japan
Bower’s Castle will be awesome! Image provided by Universal Studios Japan © Nintendo

Super Nintendo World will be the first multi-level land at Universal Studios Japan, with Peach’s Castle and Bowser’s Castle towering over the area.

It includes themed rides, attractions, shops and unique experiences you can only find at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.

The second ride, which will be opened in future, will be Yoshi’s Adventure. You’ll get to climb atop Yoshi’s back, to follow Captain Toad on a treasure hunting adventure!

To get to the treasure, guests will have to find the 3 colored eggs that lead the way to the Golden Egg that Captain Toad was seeking: expect another super fun experience!

Power-up band next to a smartphone to experience Super Nintendo World in Japan
Power-up Band is the new way to explore the park. Image provided by Universal Studios Japan © Nintendo

Universal Studios Japan has teamed up with Nintendo also to provide a completely new experience: the Power-Up Band.

Purchase the Power-Up Band in the Super Nintendo World area, and experience the park in a unique way by linking it to the Universal Studios Japan app on your smartphone!
The final price will be 3,200 yen, tax included.

Through the Power-Up Band you can take part in the Power-Up Band Key Challenge, by collecting virtual coins and stamps.
In the end you’ll get to take part in a dramatic boss battle with Bowser Jr. Jump, just like in the videogame!

The Super Nintendo World grand opening was set on 4 February 2021, but it has been pushed back to when the state of emergency for Osaka prefecture will be lifted. That is of course to make sure that guests visiting Universal Studios Japan are going to do so in a safe environment.

Updates will follow as soon as possible.

The best of Hollywood, part of the USJ night parade
Make sure not to miss the night parade: it’s going to be awesome!

Unique Japanese Experience – Anime Themed Events

Universal Studios Japan events are always amazing. They can last for a while, just like it happened with the Evangelion XR Ride, but generally they switch to a new one every two months, more or less.

We were lucky enough to attend the Sailor Moon summer event (gosh, the feels!), and the only complaint we had was that there weren’t English subtitles.

We could understand the meaning of the special movie of course, because it was an anime and we knew the characters already, but we missed completely all the dialogues because we couldn’t understand a single word of what they were saying.

It’s something you should keep in mind, whether you’re visiting with children or not. If the event is a movie, you might not understand anything they say.
And if you’re short on time, maybe it’d be wise to spend it by staying in line for another attraction.

Two children dressed up as characters from the manga One Piece
The cutest One Piece cosplayers we’ve ever seen!

What you can do is visiting the shops and the restaurants close to the theater where they are showing the 4-D event movie.

They usually sell themed merchandise (we bought very cool Sailor Moon items that we didn’t even find at the Japanese shops during our last Lucca Comics & Games!) and even special dishes or cakes for the events!

There have been some of the coolest events, only at Universal Studios Japan. From Evangelion to Sailor Moon and Detective Conan:  they are all themed on the Japanese anime and in our opinion this is absolutely amazing.

After all one wouldn’t come all the way to Osaka to see the exact copy of a Universal Studios park that you can find anywhere else, right?

Of course they also plan seasonal events for Halloween, Christmas, Easter, even for the cherry blossom season in Japan!

Entrance to the Spiderman 4D ride at USJ in Osaka
I mean… we shouldn’t even be surprised to get a Stan Lee cameo but we were fangirling anyway!

Our Best Rides at Universal Studios Japan

When the night parade started, we realized that our day trip to Universal Studios Japan was really over… and while the parade was amazing, we felt a bit sad.

Being huge nerds and big kids at heart, we admit that, had we stayed in Japan for a longer trip, we would’ve probably spent two full days at the park!

I had the best birthday ever and while we have visited many other amusement parks in other parts of the world, including all the parks in Orlando (USA), this one holds a special place in our heart.

Me and Aldo, like so many other kids in Italy, have grown up watching Japanese anime.

They are a huge thing even today in Italy, with people binge watching Lupin III, Dragon Ball, One Piece or Detective Conan!
So you’ll understand what an incredible experience it was for us: we felt children all over again!

Had we spent more time at the park, we would’ve definitely had a second round of the following rides, the very best ones at Universal Studios Japan:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Evangelion XR Ride (sadly, this one has been closed)
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man (watch out for a Stan Lee cameo!)
  • Hollywood Dream – The ride
  • Jurassic Park – The Ride

Another one of the very busy rides was The Flying Dinosaur, in the Jurassic World area.
But the idea that we were going to ride so high, upside down, with so many 360 degrees swings, freaked me out. That’s where I confess I’m a worrywart!

A shop named "Puppy love" next to the Evil Bank, straight from the Despicable Me movie
The Bank of Evil ATM and a shop for every dog with… well. Hopefully yours doesn’t have shark teeth!

What to expect from this amusement park in Japan

Walking through the iconic gate was mesmerizing. We had so much fun and enjoyed a beautiful day even if it was scorching hot, also thanks to the helpful, ever-smiling members of the staff.

Two of the most important Universal Studios Japan tips we can give you are to buy the Express Passes and to plan wisely what you want to do even before you get to the park.

We know it’s a bit expensive, but it’s the best way to go to maximise your time at Universal Studios Japan.
Spending hours in line for every attraction (especially if it’s a hot summer in Japan) is definitely a less than pleasurable way to enjoy the area.

If you can’t afford the Express Passes, then make sure to get there extra early in the morning (like… one or two hours before the opening time) to avoid wasting too much time in line. Then dash over to the timed tickets machines to get as many timed tickets as possible.

Minions statues at the Despicable me area at USJ Osaka
Taking pictures of all the minions has been so much fun!

What you should definitely do when you are still planning your trip to Japan is to have an in-depth look at the official website, to make sure you maximise time at Universal Studios Japan.

This means writing down the attractions you don’t want to miss on a list, in order of importance: priorities, folks. Priorities!

You can also check show attractions and street shows in advance. Some are very good, like the Universal Spectacle Night Parade (which is extra good if you’re Harry Potter fans), the Harry Potter shows like the wand studies or the frog choir, among others. Some others might only interest families who are visiting with younger children.

We were lucky and we evem got to see the Summer street fun parade: it was amazing, so many artists and dancers!

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Our thrilling experience was kindly sponsored by Universal Studios Japan. All opinions are our own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Universal Studios Japan™

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Travelling Dany – Danila Caputo

Danila Caputo is a bilingual travel writer living in between Naples and the Amalfi Coast (Italy), graduating from the University of Naples Suor Orsola Benincasa in Foreign Languages and Literature. She travels and works with her husband Aldo, photographer and videographer. Their blog chronicles their adventures around the world, their love for the USA (where they have family), Italian/European culture and tips on how to be responsible travelers. You can find out more about their latest trips and their life on Youtube, Instagram and Facebook.

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  1. Tom broughton says:

    This theme park looks super clean, I need to visit!

  2. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Super in depth post Danila! I never knew of this Universal location?


    1. Thank you Ryan, we’re glad you liked it!
      It’s located pretty close to Osaka, actually, and I think it opened in 2001!

  3. Loved reading this. Universal Studios looks so freaking cool, can’t wait to go one day!

    1. I will keep my fingers crossed that you get to visit one day! It’s really worth the trip from Osaka city!