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Universal Studios Japan (USJ) Discussion Thread

p. 45: Donkey Kong Country announced for 2024!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I came across this completely accidentally, but pic of the station and trains, and some more information (like 2-car trains!):



OSAKA--Universal Studios Japan is set to unveil a galactic roller coaster ride in which human adventurers "rescue" the ailing sun.


Built at a cost of 4 billion yen ($45 million), the "Space Fantasy: The Ride" will debut on March 19.


Hurtling along at a top speed of 40 kph, guests will travel 585 meters in about four and a half minutes.


They will head for the sun, at the request of its "queen," by traveling between Saturn and a group of comets, with moving images forming part of the backdrop.


During the journey, which connects two "space craft" seating four persons each, the ride rotates irregularly.


The attraction was built on the former site of E.T. Adventure, which closed last May.


From the Asahi Shimbun: http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201002260475.html

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  • 3 weeks later...

I love the music throughout the ride, it reminded me of Mario Galaxy! Also, does anyone know what was supposed to be happening at the end of the ride? I was assuming all the stars and meteors and stuff were projections, but that looked like a tunnel at the end when everything got brighter. I dont know though, its not as impressive as Lotte World's. A solid looking ride regardless!

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Hi all,


We went on this ride yesterday. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos, as I truly had no idea how new it was until we left the park.


All I could think of during the 1 hour wait time was "must be a busy day at Universal for a wild mouse spinning coaster to have an hour-long wait".


What an INCREDIBLE ride this is!


It immerses you in the fantasy of the world superbly, way up there with the very best I have ever seen from Disney, and the ride itself is sheer bliss. All the effects are MAGNIFICENT, even mind-blowing.


It's not a thrilling coaster ride, but that would not suit the theming at all. The emphasis really is on the overall ride experience. There's not a lot of spinning going on, but a lot of swooping during the ride which give the perfect illusion of travelling through space between the planets. The ending is a real highlight of the ride.


A definite 10/10 in our books.

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  • 2 months later...

I can't WAIT to go on this ride when I visit Japan again. Has anyone else been on this new ride? Any thoughts? For such a cool sounding attraction, I'm surprised there has been so little reported on it!

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^ Did you watch the video above? I know not a lot has been reported on it, but that video I think does a VERY good job of giving you an idea of what the ride is like. It really does look amazing!


--Robb "TPR's Japan 2011 Trip! BE THERE!!!" Alvey

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  • 2 weeks later...

I rode this thing yesterday and was very impressed. I went to the park thinking it was yet another boring mack coaster but I was wrong. The capacity of this coaster is also very high: in the station there's a conveyer belt to board the trains and there's literally a continuous stream of trains entering and exiting the station, so (in the station) it actually feels like there's just one continuous train while in reality it's 2 car trains that are just back to back with eachother. Also the trains don't stop in the station (conveyer belt) so the capacity of this coaster is very high!


The ride itself is superbly themed. You're in a space setting and there's literally little lights everywhere around you. I don't know if they achieved this by lights hanging from the ceiling on a string or some sort of visual effect, but it feels like you're right in the middle of these lights flying through them, which greatly improves the 'I'm in space' feeling. The ride itself is fun but because of the big amount of trains you get ALOT of block brakes so it's always just a short section of track where you actually gain speed and such before being slowed down again. There's also 3 lift hills which was a nice surprise. Along the track there are several extra theming to unfold the story like energy crystals, planets and such, but I thought a bit more would have been welcome. After the third lift hill the story takes a darker turn and the finale is a ride through the center of the sun, which was VERY impressive. You travel through a round chamber where the walls are composed of octagonal (I think) mirrors with a light behind them, and as you speed by all these lights are turned on to create a dazzling effect. It's something you have to see in real life because words can't really explain it. After that the ride is sadly over.


There's a good amount of spinning throughout the ride without overdoing it.


Good points:

Superbe theming, especially the hundreds of lights in the room that create an awesome space setting and the sun chamber

Very high capacity

Good spinning


Bad points:

Ride feels short despite 3 lift hills

Because of the block brakes the ride feels chopped up in short sections, so it never feels like you're truly picking up speed.


Overall, a good ride and thankfully it has a good capacity. Well done by Mack

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  • 1 month later...



Universal Studios Japan takes visitors on a ride into the future of entertainment with GestureTek's patented 3D depth-sensing and multi-touch technology, used in the new multi-million dollar 'Space Fantasy' attraction.


"Space Fantasy is the first theme park ride to venture into 3D depth-tracking rider experiences," says Vincent John Vincent, President of GestureTek. "With GestureTek's world-first use of multi-touch and 3D tracking in a ride environment, we have taken our 3D gesture tracking invention to the next level and raised the bar for everyone in 3D gesture control space."


Using 3D cameras that scan the surrounding environment and detect movement, GestureTek created an innovative and exciting way for guests to interact in free space with dynamic multi-media imagery in the pre-ride area. On the actual ride, GestureTek's touch-free multi-touch interface adds a collaborative element to the rider experience, so that guests can interact together with on-screen elements while working towards a common goal.

"Our immersive gesture control systems are the inspiration for the technology behind Kinect, so it's fitting that GestureTek has taken this capability from the home to the public," said Vincent John Vincent.


GestureTek's award winning interactive gesture-control technology was used in two different parts of the attraction.


Pre-ride area: Space Entities Engage with Passers-By, Reacting to Users' Movements and Gestures


Visitors line up next to 85 feet of motion-driven 'Harmony Walls' designed to provide a unique and engaging interactive experience. Using an array of 22 integrated 3D depth cameras, 13 projection systems, a custom-designed tracker and 16 rack-mounted quad-core computers, GestureTek created an intelligent, vision-equipped environment where the heads of up to 66 guests and 132 hands can be tracked. The system's tracking capabilities track an entire audience and their specific gestures, providing visitors with the ultimate interactive experience.


GestureTek managed the creation of fun custom content featuring animated intergalactic 'sun fairies' that tumble, fly, lead visitors and scatter in reaction to visitors' movements and gestures. "Our 3D tracking system can be configured to respond to a broad range of one-handed or two-handed gestures, including swipes, circular motions, pokes, waves and more," said Francis MacDougall, GestureTek's Chief Technology Offer. "The Space Fantasy attraction primarily utilizes intuitive pointing gestures, to guarantee easy and immediate user interaction, with no learning curve."


Riders Collect 'Star Dust' To Save the Sun


As part of the ride, GestureTek's multi-touch software and custom-designed camera array powers an interactive experience where, for the first time ever, riders can control content on the screens around them, simply by gesturing with their arms.


The premise of the Space Fantasy ride is the impending death of the sun. As guests travel by cart up a 98 foot in-ride climbing tunnel lined with Barco LED display tiles, they can collect energy from the 'Stardust Clouds,' that will be used to re-energize the sun.


"The tunnel ride is the first 'in-ride' device-free interaction that we have seen," said MacDougall. "GestureTek is one of a very few organizations possessing the in-depth knowledge of cameras, infrared and multi-touch required to isolate multiple hand movements while ride cars are in motion."

GestureTek was selected for this project because of their unique skills and experience in large projects involving camera-based multi-touch and 3D vision. Working with the leadership and vision of Matt Jones, Project Director at Universal Studios, the Space Fantasy attraction was brought to life and will leave a lasting impression on all who experience it.




GestureTek®, founded in 1986, is the inventor and pioneer in computer vision control and gesture recognition systems for presentation, information and entertainment systems. We dramatically improve the user experience with intelligent devices by revolutionizing the interface to information and interactive media. With patented single camera, multiple camera and 3D-vision solutions, GestureTek's video gesture control technology lets people use hand and body motions to control dynamic computer content on any screen, interactive surface or camera-enabled device – with no need to wear, hold or touch anything special. GestureTek also offers immersive and multi-touch gesture-based products. In the past 20 years, GestureTek has delivered over 4,000 interactive solutions for location-based entertainment facilities, public spaces, corporate locations, retail stores, hospitality venues, device manufacturers and game developers. Selected customers and licensees include Panasonic, Microsoft, Samsung, Sanyo, Sony, Nokia, IBM and Intel. The company has offices in Sunnyvale, California; Toronto and Ottawa, Canada; and Asia. Learn more at http://www.gesturetek.com or call (800) 315-1189 or (416) 340-9290.

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  • 4 months later...



Universal Studios Japan® in its 10th Year Full of “Happy Surprises!” of the Largest and Highest Level in Park History

Launching special entertainment “Dreams Are Universal,” as well as exciting and exhilarating seasonal events, during the“10th year” based on the theme of happy surprises beyond expectation and imagination


Universal Studios Japan will celebrate its 10th anniversary since Park opening on March 31 (Thursday), 2011 thanks to the continuous support of guests. As such, world-class entertainment full of celebration commensurate with the 10th anniversary will be delivered one after another based on the theme of “Happy Surprises of the Largest and Highest Level in Park History!” during the period from March 3 (Thursday), 2011 to April 8 (Sunday), 2012 (period is yet to be finalized).


Happy Surprises! One After Another!


The Park during the 10th year period will have popular characters, entertainers and crew springing a stream of unpredictable “Surprises” all over the Park. Programs full of “Happy Surprises,” such as a musical suddenly starting where guests least expect, a dinosaur creeping up alongside guests all of a sudden or an optical illusion artwork startling guests, will be launched at the Park. Guests are sure to find themselves breaking out in a huge grin from the developments that go beyond the imagination.*Please note that the above program content is subject to change.


Marking the grand opening of the 10th year will be a special entertainment commemorating the 10th anniversary called “Dreams Are Universal.” An outdoor show that will be the largest in Park history, a special stage will be installed outdoors in the Park’s New York Area in the motif of the Park’s “Universal Globe” symbol, on which Elmo, Snoopy, Hello Kitty and other popular Park characters, along with approximately 90 entertainers, will join forces in performing a heartwarming story about fulfilling a family’s dream. This “Dreams Are Universal” is scheduled to show for a limited period only from March 3, 2011 to January 9, 2012.


In addition to “Dreams Are Universal,” the Park in its 10th year is scheduled to hold seasonal events throughout the year. Even annual seasonal events – the extremely cool summer event (from July 7, 2011 to August 31, 2011), the exciting Halloween event (from early September 2011 to early November 2011), the Christmas event in a new 10th anniversary commemorative version (from early November 2011 to early January 2012) and the countdown event celebrating the new year in grand style – will be enhanced to be full of “Happy Surprises.” Moreover, the ultimate celebratory program for culminating the finale of the 10th year is currently in planning for spring 2012.*Please note that the above schedule is subject to change.


Furthermore, several programs and promotions of “Happy Surprises” to boost the 10th anniversary in and out of the Park are currently in planning. The details will be announced once they are finalized. One of these will be “WE ARE USJ,” a social media platform scheduled to be launched in October 2010 for internal and external members, as well as fans, to communicate Park information and the Park through such means as an official Twitter account or blog. A 10th anniversary special site will also be launched within the official website in late January 2011 to deliver the latest information.


Universal Studios Japan in its 10th year will provide absolute happiness and sensations beyond the pre-established harmony, unlike any ever experienced before, to strengthen emotional connections with guests in its quest to become a park that is loved even more.


It should be noted that this campaign's launch will result in the closure and replacement of the Land of Oz section of the park.

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  • 1 year later...

I think we all assumed this would come at some point...


From the LA Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2012/05/harry-potter-heads-to-universal-studios-japan.html


Harry Potter heads to Universal Studios Japan


Harry Potter has conquered the world with books and then with movies. Now he’s doing the same with theme parks.


Universal Studios Japan on Thursday will unveil plans to build the first international version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the blockbuster attraction that has drawn millions of fans to Universal’s Orlando resort and is coming to Los Angeles.


The Osaka destination -- expected to begin construction in the next few weeks with a planned opening in late 2014 and an expected cost of about $500 million -- brings Hogwarts Castle and rides including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey to the boy wizard’s biggest market outside of the United States.


The eight Potter movies grossed nearly $900 million in Japan -- more even than in his home country of Britain. Products including magic wand chopsticks have made the Harry Potter brand Japan's most successful movie-based consumer products line of the last decade.


But the book and film series are both complete, and fans who have grown into their 20s and 30s are buying fewer toys. Harry Potter is in need of a business transformation. The answer from Warner Bros. -- which owns the licensing rights to author J.K. Rowling’s books -- is theme parks. Potter has driven a stunning 68% increase in attendance at Universal Orlando and spurred visitors to spend millions on butterbeer during their visits and paraphernalia on their way out.


"This type of immersion is what the fans crave more than buying traditional merchandise," said Warner Bros. Consumer Products President Brad Globe. "Our strategy is focused on theme parks because it's a different experience. They’ve read the books and seen the movies, but now they can enter the world."


Despite the sluggish world economy, theme park owners have been investing and expanding in recent years. Market leader Walt Disney Co. is spending $4.5 billion to build a new park in Shanghai, $1 billion to upgrade Anaheim’s California Adventure Park, and $500 million on a new attraction in Orlando based on James Cameron’s hit film "Avatar."


Universal, meanwhile, has a major expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando planned in addition to the version in Los Angeles. And new Universal-branded parks are in the works in South Korea, Dubai and Russia.


"Across the board, theme park developers are doubling down on renovations and expansions," said Nima Samidi, an industry analyst at IbisWorld. "There's particularly a lot of activity in Asia because it's a fast-growing market that has a fascination with Western culture."


Revenue at Disney’s theme park unit grew 10% in the company’s last fiscal year to $11.8 billion, and Universal's was up 24% to $2 billion.


At Universal Studios Japan, which is owned by private investors including investment bank Goldman Sachs but licenses its name from the Hollywood entertainment giant, executives engaged in extensive research to gauge the public's interest in a Harry Potter attraction.


In a country of 127 million, more than 80 million tickets to Potter films have been bought and about 24 million books have been sold, giving the story of the orphan boy turned world-saving magician four spots among Japan’s top 10 all-time bestsellers.


The park also conducted surveys to gauge current levels of enthusiasm and what Japanese audiences like most about the series.


"Magical coming-of-age stories play very well in Japan, particularly when they're about the balance between ordinary life and something fantastical," said Glenn Gumpel, president of Universal Studios Japan.


Similarly themed works like the animated movie "Spirited Away" from director Hayao Miyazaki and video game series The Legend of Zelda from Nintendo are among the nation's most popular works of pop culture.


With its opening expected in under three years, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Japan will open sooner than the one in Los Angeles, despite the fact that the deal, which came out of talks that began last summer, was closed more recently.


That’s because at Universal Studios Hollywood, there's no room for expansion, meaning existing attractions must be demolished or renovated to make room for magic. As a result, it's not expected to debut until 2016.


In Osaka, meanwhile, the Wizarding World will be built alongside existing rides based on Spider-Man, "Jurassic Park" and "Jaws."


"We're already growing and expect we’ll get millions more people once we launch Harry Potter," said Gumpel, whose park drew more than 9 million people last year.


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a cash cow for Warner Bros., which gets a substantial upfront free for each Universal attraction and a share of admissions and merchandise sales. In addition, Warner conducts tours of the soundstage in Leavesden, Britain, where the "Potter" films were shot.


And though there are few rival parks, outside of ones owned by rival Disney, that would be natural homes for Potter rides, the studio already has its eye on eventually launching more Wizarding Worlds.


"A lot of work goes into building these parks, so we’re probably at the limit of what we could manage at the moment," said Globe. "But if some other great opportunity for Harry Potter presents itself, we would certainly take a look at it."


In a statement, Rowling gave her stamp of approval to the newest addition to her Harry Potter empire:


"I was delighted to experience and enjoy the attention to detail, creativity and superb craft that went into the first Wizarding World in Orlando,” she said. “I am equally delighted that the same level of expertise and enjoyment will translate to the new park in Japan.”


Edited by jedimaster1227
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Readers Digest Version...


- Nearly identical to the IOA Harry Potter Land (minus existing attractions like Dragons and Unicorn)

- Opening in 2014, well ahead of Hollywood Version

- Construction to start immediately, no closure of other rides (Phew! Jaws is safe!!!)

Edited by SharkTums
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Wow, that's a pretty aggressive timeline to get this open. I think we could all have guessed that this would be on the cards eventually but that's a quick turnaround!


I wonder how long it will be before Universal Singapore finds some room...

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Anything that further strengthens the bottom line for the theme parks while increasing guest satisfaction is a win in my book.


I still haven't seen a Harry Potter movie or read a book, but I still enjoyed WWoHP in Orlando

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The only thing I took from this article is that it apparently takes two years to demolish buildings in America.




I've also heard a recent rumor that TPR is planning a "Potter across the planet" tour as everyone knows that Elissa is a diehard potter fan girl.

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