General Tips,  Older children,  Younger children

Universal Studios Japan. What do I need to know?

You may be asking yourself, is it worth going to Universal Studios Japan? How do I get to Universal Studios and what do I need to know before going? Read ahead for all the top tips and everything you need to know before heading out for a day of fun. 

Top Tips for Universal Studios Japan

Get there early

Universal Studios gets busy. Very busy. My number one tip is to get there early. Queues start lining up outside the park before it even opens.

Download the App

With its high-speed thrill rides, 4D experience, parades and performances Universal Studios draws enormous crowds. You can download the USJ app to help keep track of how long each queue is for each attraction. The app also provides information on show times, a map of the park and any ride closures.

Super Nintendo World

Photo: Universal studios Japan

Buy your tickets in advance

General admission tickets (Studio passes) can be purchased at the Universal Studio Park gates however, to avoid the queues I recommend purchasing your tickets in advance either from the park website USJ (  your travel agent or a site such as

The cost of passes depends upon the day and time you are visiting. For example, you can purchase a twilight pass which allows you entry into the park after 3pm for a cheaper rate. Children’s tickets are discounted.

Remember that you cannot re enter the park once you leave unless you have an annual pass.

Get a timed entry ticket to the popular attractions

The park at Universal Studios is divided into ten areas: Super Nintendo World, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Minion Park, Universal Wonderland, Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Amity Village, and Waterworld.

The Super Nintendo World and Wizarding World of a of Harry Potter area both have limited capacity numbers. To make sure you can get into these areas, grab either a fast pass (more on these later) or a timed area ticket. These are free and available from either the USJ App or from one of the timed entry booths within the park. You’ll need your park admission tickets to access these. Availability of these timed tickets are limited so make sure to grab one early in the day.

You can go about exploring the park or going on other rides while you wait for your timed entry admission, just remember to keep an eye on the time,

If you are late for your timed entry slot you won’t be allowed in.

Use an Express Pass

If you want to skip the long queues for popular rides, or guarantee access to areas like Super Nintendo World, you should consider buying a Universal Express Pass. UNIVERSAL EXPRESS PASS LIST | USJ WEB TICKET STORE

These are a greater cost and are extra to your admission ticket, however if you can afford them, they are well worth the cost and will save you hours of waiting in queues. The passes can also be purchased in advance from affiliated Universal Studio hotels and Lawsons.

Choose your express pass carefully as different Express Passes offer different perks. These range from prime parade viewing spots to shortened wait times for certain rides, so be sure that your bundle includes access to the attractions you particularly want to go on.

Some passes include timed entry to the very popular Super Nintendo World and The Wizarding world of Harry Potter, this will ensure your entry into these areas which is a huge bonus.

If you want to get an express pass, be sure to purchase yours in advance as they frequently sell out on the day.

Plan Ahead

Decide in advance which rides you want to go on the most and head to these first. That way you will at least get to go on a few of your favourite rides before the kids or you get tired! Leave exploring the park, eating and shopping until later. Rides first, shopping and eating later!

Ride wait times sign

Visit on a weekday

The weekends and holidays are extremely busty at Universal Studios, particularly in summer and golden week. Plan to go to the park on a weekday if possible. There will still be super long lines and wait times (there is no getting away from these) but at least they won’t be extreme and I’m talking about 2 hour plus wait for rides!

Shorten wait times with a Yoyakunori (reserve and ride) ticket

These are a free ticket allowing you to reserve a specific ride time for the Universal Wonderland attractions and skip the queues.

These are free and can only be used for one ride at a time. You can still go on the other rides while you wait for your designated ride time, however you will need to line up for these. The tickets are time specific so don’t be late for your time or your ticket will expire, and you won’t be allowed to skip the queue.

The Yoyakunori ticket booths are found at the entrance of each ride.

location of Yoyakunori ticket booths

Rides available for these are

The flying snoopy

Elmo’s go go skateboard

Moppy balloon trip

Elmo’s bubble bubble

Shorten wait times by going solo

If you don’t mind riding solo some of the rides at USJ offer the option of going on the ride as a single rider. There is a separate queuing line for this which is usually much shorter than the regular queuing line.

Families can use the child switch option

Most of the attractions at USJ offer the option of “child switch” for families with small children.  If you are parents with a child who cannot ride on some of the attractions, you can wait with them in the designated area while your partner enjoys the ride as a single rider, then you can switch with them without having to queue in the line again.

What else do I need to Know?

How do I get to Universal Studios Japan?

If you’re travelling from Osaka station in Umeda, you can ride the Osaka Loop Line for five stops to the Universal-City Station. This train is marked with a blue light and Universal City sign. The park is a short 5 minute walk from there.

If you’re travelling from Osaka Namba station, take the Hanshin-Namba Line to Nishikujo Station and then transfer to the JR Yumesaki Line and take 2 stops to Universal-City Station.

Where can I leave my stuff?

There are coin operated lockers or various sizes around the park. Use the map on the App to locate them.

Are there special areas for parents with children?

All throughout USJ there are areas for families with children to use. This makes bringing young ones to the theme park much easier. Find these areas on the App or ask for assistance at the information counter at the front of the park.

Changing/nursing stations.

There are two designated changing/nursing stations at USJ with hot water and microwaves available for use. these are marked on the map available on the App or ask at the information counter at the front entrance.

Stroller rental

Strollers for children 3 and under can be rented for 1100 yen at the counter to the right of the front entrance.

What are the themed areas for Universal Studios Japan?

Super Mario Nintendo World

The very popular Super Nintendo World houses rides such as Mario cart, Koopa’s challenge and Yoshi’s adventure as well as multiple mini game challenges which can be played through a purchased power up wristband and synced to your smart phone. The power up wristband is sold at the food and merchandise kiosks within the park area and can be used to get your point tally and see where you rank among other players. Ways to earn points, collect coins and digital stamps include earning keys from the mini challenges, punching yellow boxes for coins, racing in Mario Kart, unlocking Bowser Jr’s toy chest, and finding 8-bit characters.

There are several themed restaurants including Kinopio’s Café and Yoshi Snack Island and the One-Up Factory merchandise store in this area.

Mario Cart Ride

Photo Universal studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This was one of my favourite parts of the park and if you’re a Harry Potter fan you’ll love it. There’s an impressive model of Hogwarts’ Castle where you can visit Dumbledore’s office and the classrooms. The Hogwarts express and an array of shops and cafes are available to explore in the Hogsmeade village including Ollivander’s Wand Shop Honey dukes and Zoncos. Don’t miss out on trying a butterbeer (non-alcoholic) or ice cream from the Three Broomsticks.

Butterbeer from the Three Broomsticks

Rides in this area include the fabulous Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (don’t forget to smile for the hidden camera as you go past!) and the Flight of the Hippogriff.

The Hogwarts Express


Hollywood is the first area you enter after walking through the amin gates. This area is themed on the Hollywood Boulevard and has live street parades, souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes. Our favourite was Mel’s Drive-In Diner a retro styled diner serving milkshakes and hamburgers. Look out for the vintage cars out the front.

Mel’s Retro Style Diner

Hollywood Dream the ride, Hollywood Dream Backdrop and the Space Fantasy ride are all located within this area.

New York

Based on 1930s New York this area houses two of my favourite rides, the 4k 3D ride The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman is located in this zone and if you like Spiderman this ride is a must do. Also, the Terminator 2 3D Ride based on the movies. There are several American style eateries in this zone as well as Spiderman themed souvenir shops.

New York Street Scene

San Francisco

A recreation of the American port city San Francisco including Chinatown and Fisherman’s wharf.

You’ll find the Backdraft experience here. An exciting performance based on the Backdraft movie complete with explosions and flames. Even though we didn’t know what was going on most of the time because the actors were speaking Japanese it was a lot of fun.


Universal Wonderland

Universal Wonderland is another fun area for children and families. It is located close to the entrance and has lots of child friendly rides such as Big Bird’s Big Top Circus, Flying Snoopy, Hello Kitty cup cake dream and Elmo’s Bubble Bubble.

Snoopy, the Sesame Street characters, and Hello Kitty all reside here.

Cookie Monster slide at Universal Wonderland

Photograph Universal Studios Japan


Waterworld is a huge area based on the movie with an exciting live action show featuring stunt riders, flames and water. There are several shows a day- check the app for times.

Waterworld live performance

Jurassic Park

This is where you’ll find two of the most popular rides at Universal Studios. Jurassic Park – the ride (take a disposable poncho if you plan to go on this one- you’ll get wet) and the Flying Dinosaur where riders are suspended face down and flown around the park. This ride is unique to Universal Studios Japan.

Entrance to Jurassic Park

The very realistic live action Walk with dinosaur’s show is also located in this area. They do a great job of making them look relatively lifelike.

One of the dinosaurs on the Walk with dinosaurs show

Amity Village

If you’re a fan of the movie Jaws, you’ll like this area. The Amity boardwalk houses food stalls, restaurants and parlour games ad well as the Jaws cruise ride. Look out for the giant suspended shark for a cool photo opportunity.

Start of the Amity Village Jaws ride

Minion Park

The kids will love Minion Park. There are arcade games, food stalls and souvenir shops all based on the cute (though sometimes annoying) minions. You’ll find the Despicable Me – Minion Mayhem ride with Gru and his daughters and the Freeze Ray ride located within this area.

The kids might even bump into a few roaming minions located in front of the Gru house!

Minions ready for action

Photograph Universal studios Japan

A day at Universal Studios Japan is a lot of fun. Although it can get very crowded it remains one of our favourite theme parks to visit. Just remember to get there early and go on the rides first before exploring the park and you’ll have a great time.

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