After our fantastic day in Osaka, it was time to experience our first ever Universal Studios park outside of the USA. I'd read/observed for years that this was a "best hits" of Universal park plus some exclusive offerings... A smattering of popular attractions from the stateside parks, plussed with a few unique experiences. I'd prepared for insane crowds and decided with Robb & Elissa's advice to splurge on Express Passes for the park. I researched the park heavily and with my planned Express Pass (I went with the maximum non-unlimited option for seven attractions) lineup, I figured out which attractions to go to in a rough order that would minimize the wait times and maximize our time in the park.
As researched proved, the park gets absolutely swamped, even before officially opening its gates. Express Pass is an absolute must. We visited during the Universal Cool Japan festival, which also impacted the way we experienced certain attractions.
This was also a neat park for me because it gave me the opportunity to experience a few new things, a few old favorites and one of the most intense coasters I've ever been on. The park experience from morning to night was almost entirely fantastic, with the operation of Space Fantasy's Lupin the Third coaster and The Flying Dinosaur being the only disappointments of the day. But much like how Tokyo's parks take the best of Disney's stateside experiences and makes them better, Universal Japan has managed to take popular attractions and lands like Jurassic Park and Despicable Me and make them better with their own execution. I wish we had more time at the resort to breath and visit CityWalk, and for this reason we both agreed Osaka would be back on our plans for our next visit to Japan.
I woke up that morning to a breakfast of fluffy cheesecake... With fluff in my belly and Jaws in my soul, it was time to roll.
Similar but different.
I'd been told Hollywood Dream was a pretty standard mini-B&M hyper, but I was unreasonably excited to experience it.
I'm not ashamed to say I have wished for years that this is what Florida got instead of Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit!
Since it wasn't included in our Express Pass package, we went straight to the Lupin the Third XR coaster, an overlay of Space Fantasy.
The queue has received a minor overlay to support the story of the anime... Which I had no background in, and didn't really need to understand to enjoy the experience.
My research on the park strongly recommended waiting in the Single Rider queue to avoid a 2-3 hour wait. As it turns out, this would cut our wait time down to 65 minutes.
Even though the coaster has seating forward facing and back, during the Universal Cool Japan XR Coaster overlays the coaster only loads the front facing seats... Which cuts the popular ride's capacity in half...
The story of the coaster is that you're on a chase with Lupin the Third through the city...
I rode the first half of the coaster with the VR on since I'd not been on many VR coasters (and none that were spinning coasters) and I was really impressed with the synchronicity of the movement of the coaster with the visuals. That being said, I was curious to see just how much of Space Fantasy was still active to be seen without the goggles, so about halfway through I lifted my visor enough to get a glimpse. Pretty much all of the lighting effects from the regular ride remained on to see without the VR headset... Having seen what I did, I really wished I could have experienced the normal coaster without the VR. I'm glad they've pulled the XR experiences off of this coaster for the upcoming Universal Cool Japan.
Overall a neat experience but the coaster would be better suited to operate without the XR Coaster overlays.
Similar but different...
Backdraft was an experience I was really interested to try for myself having never gotten to Hollywood's park in time to try it out (construction of Transformers: The Ride was already under way during my first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood).
It was like an alternate universe Twister-meets-Earthquake, with the interludes from the film director/cast and the multiple pre-shows before the big finale effects room.
Overall, this was a really fun and unique attraction... I can only imagine what it costs to operate.
Fun Fact: The film that inspired this attraction now has a direct to video sequel for some reason. I've not seen either of these films.
My wife got super excited about the fact that Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue lives on (in a way) at Universal Studios Japan.
It is just as cheesy as you remembered. This version of the show matches the one that ran at Universal Studios Florida from 2006 - 2014 (the show closed to make way for Fast and Furious: Supercharged in 2016).
This is about the best "close up" photo I could get of Hollywood Dream from the queue. The park is *extremely* strict when it comes to loose articles and anything in your pockets that you choose not to put in a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo gets carried with you in a plastic basket to be put on the side of the station... Basically, the moral of the story here is just put your stuff in a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo for this and The Flying Dinosaur.
Sing! Live was under construction during our visit. As someone that enjoyed the film, I'm curious to see how this turns out and if it eventually ends up stateside.
Mel's looks VERY different here.
The body of water in the center of this park is much larger than the one at Universal Studios Florida... And it is even more strange to see Jurassic Park in the corner where I'd expect to find Diagon Alley and Fear Factor Live!
Hollywood Dream was not particularly intense, but it was silky smooth and had some great pops of air. I absolutely prefer it to Rip, Ride, Rockit.
A very strange Bollywood Sesame Street show was running during our visit.
No Jimmy Fallon here.
These guests really love Minions!
I would've enjoyed this visual a lot more if I had gotten MY CUP OF COFFEE!!!
(Japanese Spider-Man was equally as fun as its Floridian sibling.)
I was incredibly intrigued to see how Super Silly Fun Land would turn out, knowing that Despicable Me Minion Mayhem took over Back to the Future: The Ride.
Such an interesting view...
I was very tempted.
I absolutely love that Richter's is a Coca-Cola-themed quick service eatery here... Sadly there was nothing for my wife to eat here but I loved the theme nonetheless.
Super Silly Fun Land really is an insanely detailed plaza!
I remembered to take a photo of the sign for Larry, but not the ride itself... Shame on me.
Some of the best carnival games I've ever seen in a park.
Practically ripped from the films!
Since it was Easter time during our visit, the land received some slight updates to match the season.
Tons of references from the film Minions too!
I can't deny how much I enjoy these films.
A hidden nod to Snowball from The Secret Life of Pets films, another Illuminations Entertainment production.
The land is overflowing with detail!
Time to head in!
The pre-show starts off the same as those found in Florida and Hollywood...
But given the fact that the ride leverages a different ride system (the Back to the Future: The Ride system versus Hanna-Barbera), there was an added loading video that played before you board.
Having ridden both ride system versions, I can honestly say that this is the better execution of the concept. The huge screen and increased range of motion in the simulator pods makes this a much more immersive experience. The ride film even features adding beginning and ending segments to better match the setup of this attraction's ride system.
I'm so happy to be home in Amity!
It does exist!
One for the books...
The queue for Jaws in Japan is a little different than the one that existed in Florida...
Yes, they have Jurassic Park: The Ride here. No, we did not ride it, because it was cold and we didn't want to be cold and wet.
Long had I waited for this moment.
The Flying Dinosaur changes the entire atmosphere of Jurassic Park.
I hate Turkey Legs with a passion, but I was tempted to buy one just for this dinosaur grip.
The lead car is gorgeous.
Even with my Express Pass, I still waited 1.5 hours to ride The Flying Dinosaur. The operations on this coaster were incredibly disappointing...
I give them credit for theming the station in such an intense manner... But aren't we supposed to be keeping the dinosaurs in and the people out?
I've now visited Hogwarts via three different portkeys around the world.
I've taken this photo many times before and yet this was the first time I'd taken this photo.
Pretty close to similar.
Same fun family coaster...
And equipped with a wheelchair seat!
No Magical Motorbike Creature Adventures for Hagrid.
The path leading to Hogsmeade is long and winding and does a good job of separating the land from the rest of the park.
The "Black Lake" was created thanks to the waterfront location of the land, and it is incredibly effective.
Otherwise very similar to what we have back home.
We ended up eating at the Three Broomsticks for lunch... Comparable food to what you'd find back home.
Though this plate of profiteroles was definitely new, so I had to order it.
They sell gum here!
I can't take this to the other park...
I love the marquee.
The Flying Dinosaur was easily the most intense, insane flying coaster I've been on... And one of the most intense coasters I've ridden ever, anywhere. It is like B&M woke up from their funk of forceless coasters for a brief moment to design this ridiculous coaster. The inside raven turn is one of the most forceful maneuvers I've ever experienced, and it is followed quickly by a tight pretzel loop. This thing took the wind out of me in the best way. I wish this ride was closer to home... It scares me how good it is.
I still feel my ribs being pressed down from this maneuver.
BEST QUICK SERVICE MEAL EVER!
I love everything about these stacked track elements. This is a Rollercoaster Tycoon fantasy of mine, fleshed out in reality.
So much fun!
I love that the brake run cuts through the Pantages facade.
I nearly left the park without remembering to visit Universal Wonderland. I've always been amazed that Universal was able to create a land where Sesame Street, Snoopy and Hello Kitty characters all coexisted.
The land is kind of amazing inside and out.
We had to run back to the Hollywood section of the park to grab a spot for Universal's Spectacle Night Parade. The parade features floats from Harry Potter, Jurassic World, Transformers and Despicable Me, and the floats are supplemented by projection mapping to make this an incredible show-style experience in passing.
The Hogwarts Express float was really a great way to start the show.
Dementors on the train!
The Quidditch float featured wizards flying on brooms, which was a neat effect.
Bumblebee leads the Transformers segment of the parade.
Megatron's float is huge!
Optimus Prime transforms from a truck to his full form in a really clever effect.
The Jurassic World section was surprising...
Dinosaurs started to be carted in behind fenced paddocks...
But these dinosaurs would escape...
You bred raptors?
The T-Rex float is absolutely the star of the show.
The finale of the parade features a series of Despicable Me/Minions floats...
A good time for sure.
We ran out of time to experience Terminator 2: 3D, but it wasn't a huge loss considering the Florida version closed not too long ago.
Time for some typical tourist shots.
I love how Hollywood Dream frames the Hollywood coverings.
And that the path of the coaster doubles back over the same hill.
Yep, I did it.
Backdrop has its own color scheme for its lighting and trains.
Arriving two hours before opening and leaving an hour after close, we were exhausted... But we had little time to rest, as the next morning we'd be headed to Kyoto.
Why is all of the food in Japan amazingly themed, amazing, and detailed!?!? The Chomp Mitten for the Turkey Leg is incredible and I almost bought some of that Jaws food last time even though I wouldn't eat it just because I loved the presentation so much!
I didn't know that you ended up with a 90-minute wait even with Express passes for Flying Dinosaur... that's disappointing, I really want to hop over since it's only an hour wait but the huge price they've raised the express passes to compared to my previous visits pre-Potter puts me off. I heard from friends teaching in Japan they've used the single rider line for an hour-80 minute wait which seems pretty shocking that it's quicker than a paid pass
fantastic pics, and really surprising to see just how MUCH the park changed things in just the 6 months difference from Easter to Halloween - when I was there (early Oct).
some spots look completely different!
I only saw the Halloween Parade, and tho it was great even with the one long song that just got played on every float thruout (and I got a wink from one of the singers on a float). . I would have loved to see this themed parade you saw. that looked so much fun!
Garet wrote:I didn't know that you ended up with a 90-minute wait even with Express passes for Flying Dinosaur... that's disappointing, I really want to hop over since it's only an hour wait but the huge price they've raised the express passes to compared to my previous visits pre-Potter puts me off. I heard from friends teaching in Japan they've used the single rider line for an hour-80 minute wait which seems pretty shocking that it's quicker than a paid pass
Express worked great during our visit in October! Of course, that was day before typhoon was to hit, so that probably impacted the crowds.
Was able to get a ride at park opening using single rider with a walk on, express later in the day was only 15, and even got a second night time express ride (granted HHN stuff was in going on) waiting about 20 min.
^^&^ Exactly, I'm thinking Adam must have run into some extraordinary conditions or problems. I mean, he's right, the operations on that ride aren't super capacity amazing, but Express should never have been more than like 40 min (which is what I believe we waited during the Christmas busy holiday season once).
^It definitely felt odd considering that everything else with Express that day worked pretty well. The ride never seemed to stop operating while we queued, it just moved incredibly slow... The worst thing that came of the line taking longer than expected was we had to choose between Terminator and the parade as we were running out of time... And the parade was the right choice to make.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
These pages are in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Cedar Fair, Legoland, Merlin Entertainment, Blackstone, Tussaud's Group, Six Flags, Universal Theme Parks, the Walt Disney Company or any other theme park company.
photos and videos on this website were taken with the permission of the park by
a professional ride photographer.
For yours and others safety, please do not attempt to take photos or videos at
parks without proper permission.
You need a sense of humor to view our site,
if you don't have a sense of humor, or are easily offended, please turn back
Most of the content on this forum is suitable for all ages. HOWEVER! There may be some content that would be considered rated "PG-13." Theme Park Review is NOT recommended for ages under 13 years of age.