Planning a visit to Universal Studios Japan at the end of the year and wondering how to get tickets - or better yet, how to get a great discount on your tickets? Then you should definitely use these insider hacks for a truly amazing experience!
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With so many attractions, rides, and shows for everyone to enjoy, these easy tips are just what you need to make your trip there a smooth and unforgettable one. From pre-trip planning to how to make the best of your visit, these 21 tips will help you beat the peak season crowds! ?
Plan your trip properly for the perfect experience
1. Look out for once-in-a-lifetime events
Theme park celebrations are some of the most stunning in the world, and USJ’s Universal Countdown Party 2023 is one celebration you won’t want to miss! What better way is there to welcome the new year than surrounded by festivities, cheer, and fireworks!
Credit: Universal Studios Japan
Since the countdown is so popular, make sure you get your ticket early by pre-ordering on Klook! Klook is one of the authorised resellers for USJ so you won’t have to worry about being denied entry to one of the park’s most exclusive events of the year. You can even choose an option that includes express passes to USJ’s top 3 most popular attractions so it’s totally worth it! Klook will instantly send your e-ticket to you via email so you can rest assured that you’ll get your ticket in time. ?
P.S. From 7PM on 31 December 2022 to 2AM on 1 January 2023, you can only enter the park with the Countdown Party Pass – but with the Countdown pass, you’ll also be able to stay in the park for 26 consecutive hours until the end of park operations on 1 January 2023! The party won’t have to end!
2. Visit during the low season to get the cheapest tickets
USJ has introduced tiered pricing for their entrance tickets, ranging from type A (Low season, S$84.25) to type C (High season, S$94.29). You can refer to their price calendar for an idea of what the price will be like during your visit, or click your preferred date on Klook to find out what the price will be.
Klook’s e-tickets also come with a 6-month open-date validity period from the selected date so you won’t have to worry about heavy rains ruining your trip! However, you can only enter on dates with the same tier price (i.e. if you bought a type A ticket you can only enter on another type A day). Plus, you just need to tap the QR code to enter the park - all convenience, no fuss!
#HHWT Tip: Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally the least busy days of the week, so visit on these days to avoid long queues. You can also check out this unofficial crowd forecast which takes events such as Japanese school holidays into account, as well as the official maintenance schedule to find out which rides are closed.
3. Enjoy limited-edition seasonal events
USJ holds seasonal activities year-round that include themed decor, exclusive merchandise, and spectacular shows you can’t catch anywhere else. Earlier this year there were events for Sailor Moon and One Piece - and right now the park is gearing up for its Universal Crystal Christmas Show!
Credit: Universal Studios Japan
The entire park will be decorated with beautiful crystals, and there’s even an all-new show that combines singing, dancing, and dazzling lights to leave you in awe. ? With all of this glitz and glamour, you might want to get a 1.5-Day Pass or even a 2-Day Pass to make sure that you get to enjoy everything! The 1.5-Day Pass requires you to enter the park only after 3pm on day 1 – so you can spend the morning exploring Osaka first.
4. Save hours off your trip with an Express Pass
When you’re at a theme park with only a limited number of hours to experience it all, it’s worth it to get an express pass to save yourself some time. Express passes allow you to enter a separate queue and you can sometimes shave more than 1 hour off your wait time, especially for popular rides like SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, The Flying Dinosaur, Sing On Tour, or Space Fantasy: The Ride, and more fan favourites! If the ride you picked for Express isn’t available, don’t be afraid to ask a staff member about possible substitutions. Check the maintenance schedule here to make sure you’ll be able to ride your favourite attraction when you visit.
Express passes are a top-up to your entrance ticket so remember to purchase both or else you won’t be able to enter the park. Klook has a variety of Express Passes for you to choose from so you can pick the one that’s perfect for you. Klook’s e-tickets are also super convenient - no need to worry about dropping your pass in the crowded park!
P.S. Purchase it ASAP as passes do sell out! If you’re sure that you want an Express Pass, you can buy a combined entrance and Express Pass that grants you express access to either 4 or 7 attractions.
5. Gain early entry for an exciting head start
Be there as early as possible! The theme park may open earlier than scheduled so this way, you can beat the queue!
6. Download the Google Translate app before you arrive
It's time to pull out your translation books and get to work! All of the attractions, rides, and shows are in Japanese and while almost all of the signs include an English translation, it may be a bit confusing at first to get used to the park.
To help you navigate simply download the Google Translate App - type or snap a picture of what you're translating, and Google will do the work for you! Most park staff will be able to understand basic English, but Google Translate’s speech-to-text function will also help bridge any communication difficulties. ?
Look out for USJ’s amazing amenities
7. Keep your stuff safe in rental lockers
If you’re travelling with luggage, drop it off in the large-size rental lockers available outside the park gates. This is especially useful if you're coming straight from the airport with a huge luggage bag. You don't want your bags to be in the way or worse, stolen.
Travelling to USJ to or from Kansai International Airport (KIX)? You can now combine your entry ticket with a Nankai Limited Express Round Trip ticket for even more convenience! The Nankai Limited Express goes directly from KIX to USJ so you won’t have to lug your heavy luggage around for any transfers.
Credit: Nu Nu Nge on Facebook
If you're carrying something smaller such as a backpack or diaper bag, head to the smaller-sized lockers located in the park itself. There are single-use lockers available just inside the main park entrance, and multi-use lockers located in the Universal Wonderland area.
8. Make full use of family-friendly and accessible facilities
Credit: Joma Delara on Facebook
Apart from the multi-use lockers, USJ has lots of facilities that make the park a welcoming experience for everyone. Stroller and wheelchair rentals are available right inside the park entrance (subject to availability). Stroller rentals cost JPY1,100 (with tax) and are for children up to 3 years old. Wheelchair rentals cost JPY500 (tax-exempt), and all restrooms are wheelchair-accessible.
P.S. If you have a disability that may require assistance, or prevent you from waiting in line, you can request a Support Sticker or Guest Support Pass to make your visit smoother. Click here for more information on how to obtain these passes.
There is a family services room inside the Universal Wonderland area that is equipped with hot water and microwaves, and diaper changing tables are also installed in all restrooms across the park (except in restaurants). Water coolers can also be found around the park - bring a refillable bottle so you won’t have to spend your money on staying hydrated!
9. Enjoy Muslim-friendly amenities for a fuss-free visit
While there's no dedicated prayer space in USJ, the family service room can be used for prayers! There are individual rooms inside the space so you’ll have the privacy you need. Perfect news for us who need a moment to recharge in the middle of a busy day. Remember to bring your own prayer garment, Qibla compass and mat.
10. Recharge with a Muslim-friendly meal
Muslim visitors no longer have to worry about finding halal food at USJ because Red Lobster located at the nearby Universal Citywalk now offers Muslim-friendly options! Enjoy dishes like Vegetable Penne (JPY1280) or Butter Chicken Curry (JPY1280). These appetising dishes will be just what you need to cap off your amazing day at USJ.
#HHWT Tip: There are currently no halal-certified eateries inside USJ premises. While some snack carts may sell snack items such as popcorn or cookies, we are unable to confirm what ingredients are used. We recommend you dine at your own discretion.
Credit: Maryanah Muzak on Facebook
Re-entry into USJ is officially not allowed, but exceptions can be made for Muslim guests who need to exit the park to dine at Red Lobster. Simply speak to a staff member at the entrance gantries or service counter, and you will receive a stamp on your hand to enable you to re-enter. This can only be used once, so time your lunch break wisely!
P.S. For those who wish to bring their own food into the park, do note that this is officially not allowed and the designated area for eating your own meals is the picnic area next to the carpark. However, if you have dietary requirements you can also approach a staff member in the park to inform them and request that they can direct you to a suitable spot to eat.
Halal status: Muslim-friendly menu available. All ingredients in Muslim-friendly menu are from halal-certified suppliers and although it's prepared in the same kitchen as non-halal meals, separate kitchenware is used to prepare the meals. Do note that dining utensils are the same as non-halal meals but you can request for disposable utensils.
Address: 5F, Universal Citywalk Osaka, 6-2-61 Shimaya, Konohana-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 554-0024
Opening hours: 11am-11pm daily
Contact No: +81 6-6940-6351
Nearest train station: Universal-City (JR Sakurajima line)
Enter a world of magic at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™
The only Wizarding World located outside of the U.S.A., this section of the park definitely deserves a section of its own. ? Here are some tips for every die-hard Potterhead!
11. Get a timed-entry ticket to secure your slot
On peak days, chances of entering the Wizarding World area may be slimmer than winning the Quidditch World Cup! Thankfully, timed-entry tickets are given out, so you’ll still get your chance to walk through Diagon Alley and take a look at Hogwarts. Just head to the booth at Central Park - it doesn't cost you any additional fees and all you've got to remember is your entry time at the allocated slot. You won't need a Remembrall for this, right??
Alternatively, get the Harry Potter Premium Experience Pass which includes express passes for both major Harry Potter rides, as well as a wand! These express passes sell out faster than candies from Honeydukes and getting them on Klook means instant confirmation for your slot. There's no mischief magic here, receive a full refund if the booking isn't completed. This beats buying them off an unauthorised reseller to save a dollar or two and ending up a Moaning Myrtle during your entire trip because the ticket is invalid.
12. Refresh with a mug of butterbeer
Enjoy a pint of frothy butterbeer (which is non-alcoholic) - be it cold, frozen or warm! While cold brew is available any day, frozen butterbeer is served in summer and warm butterbeer is available in winter. Curious to know what each tastes like? It’s time to return to Osaka and try them for yourself!
Halal Status: The butterbeer is non-alcoholic and is suitable for kids. The ‘beer’ in its name comes from its original mention in the Harry Potter series, but no beer or alcohol is involved in the production process. We recommend you dine at your own discretion.
13. Let the wand choose you at Ollivander’s
No wizard is complete without a wand and robe. It doesn't matter which house you're from - the wand-choosing stage and lessons are what you need to become the greatest wizard alive ☺️ The wand experience is held at regular intervals at Ollivanders, in groups. The group will watch a lucky chosen guest go through the process of finding a wand (or shall we say, having the wand choose them!)
You can also purchase a Magical Wand at Ollivanders that lets you practice magic for real! Upon purchase, you'll be given a map with places marked out - just head to the spellcasting sites (you'll recognise it from the bronze medallion in the pavement) and cast your spell with your Magical Wand!
Enjoy the rides and attractions!
14. Ask for a Ride Restrictions Card to enjoy roller coasters without fuss
USJ is unique as you can request a Ride Restrictions Card if you’re wearing any headgear or scarves but want to go on a ride that requires them to be removed. Though the policy isn’t Muslim-specific it’s definitely convenient for hijabis who won’t have to worry about enjoying the park to its fullest! Simply approach a staff member at these 7 selected attractions to ask for more information:
- Hollywood Dream - The Ride -Backdrop
- Hollywood Dream - The Ride
- Space Fantasy - The Ride
- The Flying Dinosaur
- Jurassic Park - The Ride
- Snoopy's Great Race™
- Flight of the Hippogriff™
15. Join the Single Rider lines for faster entry
Credit: Cloud Wang on Facebook
We know that it's nice to experience rides together with friends. But once in a while, you got to break away from the pack. You don't want to wait until dinosaurs or worse, Fluffy, the three-headed dog in Harry Potter go to sleep, do you? For certain rides, USJ has separate lanes for single riders (meaning that individuals are slotted into seats that need filling in) which are typically more vacant. Perfect for that rollercoaster you really want to go on again even if your friends don’t!
Single rider queues are currently only available for these attractions:
- The Flying Dinosaur
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – The Ride 4K3D
- Hollywood Dream – The Ride
- Jurassic Park – The Ride
- Elmo’s Go-Go Skateboard
P.S. This also means you should try to visit the rides without a single rider line first before the queues start getting long! (Hint: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, Flight of the Hippogriff™, and Snoopy’s Great Race™ are some of these rides!)
16. Arrive early for street shows
Besides the fantastic rides at USJ, the theatre shows, street shows, and parades are all a must-see too!
Credit: Hisako Tani on Facebook
Check the information boards or ask a staff member when the next show will start, and make sure to arrive at least half an hour before showtime to get the best seats! You won't be missing out by making time for these - they're full of life and part of the USJ experience.
Credit: Edy Liew on Facebook
For parades, check the online route map and find a seat near the middle for the best shots. Although the shows are in Japanese, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch them in a foreign language! Here are some of the top shows you can’t afford to miss:
- Triwizard Spirit Rally (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ area, Street Show)
- WaterWorld (WaterWorld area, Theater Show)
- SING on Tour (Hollywood area, Theater Show)
- Universal Spectacle Night Parade -The Best of Hollywood- (Hollywood area, Parade)
17. Check the height requirements before arriving
You don’t want to spend an hour queuing up with the kids for an exciting roller coaster only to realize that they can’t meet the height requirement? Thankfully USJ has a list of all height and/or weight requirements online so you can avoid this nightmare! You can also check which rides are not recommended for visitors who are pregnant or have existing health or medical conditions.
Bring home irreplaceable souvenirs
18. Collect free stickers from the staff
Credit: Ezsra Yasin on Facebook
Just like how you can collect free stickers in Hong Kong Disneyland, USJ is no exception. While you're strolling around the park and taking in the sights, do look out for staff members carrying a pouch and don’t be afraid to ask them for a free sticker! If it's your first time, even better as there’s a special sticker for that. ?
19. Look out for special seasonal souvenirs
If you visit during the right time, you might even be able to get some seasonal goodies! One of the most popular ones is the Minion popcorn bucket, which appears in various designs throughout the year. USJ also has limited-time tie-ups with popular brands or series, and they’ve collaborated with favourites such as Sailor Moon and Godzilla in the past so we can’t wait to see what else is next!
P.S. Limited-time tie-ups with other brands are usually released in the first half of the year, so book your visit then for the best chance to grab something exclusive!
20. Shop to your heart's content with tax-free buys
USJ is kind to foreign visitors, which is yet a bonus reason to draw money from Gringotts Wizarding Bank or even Bank of Evil in Minion Park and spend it here! If you're buying non-confectionary souvenirs such as clothing (total 5,000 yen or more), or confectionary and other consumable goods (between 5,000 to 500,000 yen) you can receive a 7.8% tax refund! It's good news for our shopaholic friends. ?
#HHWT Tip: Remember to redeem your tax-free shopping on the same day. Just bring along the receipts and your passport to Studio Gift West, and enjoy your tax-free rebate! Do check the website beforehand to learn what is not covered by the rebate.
21. Snap a souvenir photo at the best viewing spots
USJ is a truly magical place, right down to the small details. Take a moment to admire how detailed the themed areas are, and how everything from the eccentric personalities of the carefree Minions to the spellbinding charm of the wizards has been carefully curated to give you the experience of a lifetime!
Wind down with a glass of butterbeer in hand and capture the beauty of Hogwarts from across the Great Lake. The castle is sometimes lit up at night for special seasonal shows - for that extra touch of magic! ❤️
Seek out your favourite characters around the park for that perfect picture to bring back home. Characters can usually be found in their ‘home’ areas - so if you’re looking for Hogwarts students head to the Wizarding World area, and Hello Kitty can be found in Universal Wonderland! There are even dedicated photo spots, like the Minions’ “Delicious Me!” spot in Minion Park.
Don’t forget a snap with the iconic globe to complete your photo collection - it’s gorgeous from every angle!
The end of the year is an amazing event, and what better way to spend it than at a theme park with all the festivities! ? With these tips in hand, it’s definitely worth fighting through the crowds for that one magical moment of watching an exclusive show you can’t get anywhere else.
This article was brought to you by Klook.