In a past article, I wrote: When you’re a kid in an amusement park, you just want to try the first thing that you see. You move from one place to another until you get tired and tell your parents that you want to go home. But when you’re an adult, being in a new amusement park, especially a good one, you dread the part of going home. You just want to maximize your time as much you can.
A kid goes to the place he or she feels interested in but an adult would go to the pre-researched best things to do at the amusement park. As a kid, you’ll only remember the best things that happened but as an adult, you do remember the best parts but you also wonder what might have happened at the parts of the park that you’ve missed.
These words were mostly inspired by the best theme park I have experienced in my life so far, Universal Studios Japan (USJ).
Any first time traveler to Japan will most likely include a day or two at USJ. Whether that trip consists of families with kids, teens or even older children, a group of friends, couples, and others, I find that a lot of Japan itineraries specifically Kansai or Osaka ones almost always include the theme park.
I remember planning for my first trip to Japan. The #1 thing to do on my list was definitely USJ specifically the recently opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) then. I still recall how I couldn’t contain my excitement. There’s just something about theme parks that draws you in.
While walking through the theme park, the announcer would occasionally say, where all your dreams come true! Any movie buff would welcome this statement – an illusion of your favorite movies can be turned into reality in a matter of minutes, such a thrilling concept, I know.
But more than that, I’ve realized that the whole attraction became so much more to me than just a theme park, it became a place of amazing moments with my family, an avenue to conquer fears, a reward for all your hard work, and a lot more!
In this article, I’ve shared our amazing experiences at USJ during our recent trip to Japan and some tips to help you maximize your experiences at this popular theme park!
Here are articles that include all of my Universal Studios Japan experiences:
- JAPAN: How My Sister & I Travelled Osaka – Kyoto – Nara for ₱25,000 Each All-In
- Theme Park Guide: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Osaka, Japan
- OSAKA – KOBE – NARUTO, JAPAN: Thrilling Rides, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Beef, Mesmerizing Whirlpools & Many More!
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN (USJ) THEME PARK GUIDE
HOW TO GET TO UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN?
From the Philippines, the nearest airport to USJ is an arrival at Kansai International Airport (KIX). Jetstar offers the best rates to KIX and flies from Manila 4x and from Clark 3x weekly.
Sale fares to KIX usually start from ₱2,998+ (Manila) or ₱1,598+ (Clark) per way. You can book your flights at jetstar.com
If your flights will be arriving at Narita (Tokyo) or Chubu (Nagoya), you have the option of taking trains to Osaka.
If you’ll be exploring Nagoya and Kansai areas only, avail the Kintetsu Rail Pass but if you’re coming from Tokyo, book a JR Pass. You can book these train passes in advance via KKday.
Once you’re in Osaka, here are a few transportation options you can take to USJ:
- Since my sister and I were based in Namba, we took the Osaka-Namba Hanshin Line to Nishijuko station. We transferred to the Yumesaki Line bound for Sakurajima and alighted at Universal City station. From the station, the entrance to USJ is a just a minute walk away.
- By taxi
- By bus
- Free shuttles (if offered by your hotel)
- You can also avail private car services from KKday or Easy Travel Japan
BOOKING UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN ENTRY & EXPRESS PASSES VIA KKDAY
Universal Studios Japan in Osaka is one of the most popular theme parks in Asia. It also hosts the only Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) in the continent. So don’t expect “Lean” or “Off-Peak” season days! The park may refer these terms to some days or months but from the perspective of a tourist, places like USJ will ALWAYS have a lot of people in it!
I’ve been to USJ twice – June 2015 (weekend) & 2018 (weekday). To be honest, the traffic of people felt the same. I even felt like there were more people the second time around and that’s very surprising since we visited on a weekday during summer when travel writers say people visit it the least. The difference is that I was able to experience the park more productively during our recent trip than the first time I visited.
Back in 2015, my youngest sister and I were only able to experience 2 theater shows, 1 ride, and stayed most of the day at WWoHP. But recently, I was able to experience 5 thrilling rides and circulate the whole theme park around 2-3 times! I was able to go in more shops and pass through so many attractions. I spent less time in lines and more time experiencing & enjoying attractions at USJ.
This is all thanks to our USJ entry and express passes booked via KKday!
KKday provides local experiences and tours around the world. It is a travel platform where you can purchase tickets and pre-arranged tours for all your travel needs. Whether it’s a boat ride, an amusement park ticket, or a food tour, KKday will most likely have you covered!
KKday acts as a travel agent sans the professional fees for different travel brands and collates all of these products or services into one online platform. This is a great option for travelers planning their own itineraries as there is now an avenue where all the activities that travelers need can be booked through one website, most of the time at a lower cost than buying directly through a specific travel brand.
For more detailed write-ups on my past travel activities booked through KKday, check out these articles:
- Book your Niseko (Hokkaido) Transfers with KKday!
- SERIES: KKDAY Review + Cruising from Hong Kong to Macau with Cotai Water Jet
Back in 2015, travel activity platforms weren’t available in the Philippines yet. The only options to book tickets in advance were via travel agencies and convenience stores upon arrival in Japan. But these were inconvenient and the price mark-up from agencies (just for entry tickets not even express passes) were a bit high.
Here’s how we booked our USJ passes via KKday:
STEP 1 Download the KKday app on the App/Google Play Store or you can also visit www.kkday.com/en-ph on your browser.
STEP 2 Type in Universal Studios Japan on the search bar. Choose from the following options:
- Universal Studios Japan: Studio Pass & Universal Express Pass (7781) – entry & express passes to USJ
- Universal Studios Japan Ticket (2247) – entry pass to USJ
- Universal Studios Japan 1.5 Day Ticket (13943) – entry pass to USJ starting 3PM on day 1 and a full day 2
- Universal Studios Japan Ticket & Transportation from Kyoto (17637) – entry pass to USJ + bus from Kyoto
- Universal Studios Japan Entry Pass & VIP Wristband and Harukas 300 Observatory Pass (9429) – entry pass to USJ, observatory pass, and VIP pass at Studio West Entrance [be there 10 minutes before opening time]
- Universal Studios Japan Entry Pass & JR Kansai Area Pass (19342) – entry pass to USJ and Kansai rail pass if you’ll be exploring Kansai areas like Kyoto, Kobe, or Nara
- Universal Studios Japan Shopping Voucher (19474) – ¥5,000 shopping voucher with entitled discounts
- Universal Studios Japan: Studio Pass & Universal Express Pass (11283) – entry & express passes to USJ
The numbers in the parentheses are the activities’ corresponding product numbers. You can also type in these numbers on the search bar to lead you directly to the specific activity of your choice.
The USJ Ticket, Entry Pass, 1.5 Day Ticket, and Studio Pass are entry passes only to Universal Studios Japan.
In these options, you’ll find that there are 2 pages pertaining to both an entry and express pass. They differ in attractions for the universal express passes:
- 7781 – Universal Express Pass 4, Universal Express Pass 4 (The Flying Dinosaur), and Universal Express 7 (The Flying Dinosaur or Backdrop)
- 11283 – Universal Express Pass 3 (Minions or Neon Genesis Evangelion), Universal Pass 4 (Harry Potter and Neon Genesis Evangelion) – I think this product page is meant for special, anime, or limited attractions at USJ
The attractions on these passes may be subject to change depending on seasonal operation.
STEP 3 USJ Entry & Express Passes Booking
I chose the Universal Studios Japan: Studio Pass & Universal Express Pass (7781) option for me and my sister.
I searched for this USJ product on my KKday app and selected the date first. Our preferred theme park day was June 26, 2018 (Tuesday).
After choosing the date, I viewed the available packages.
This is a bit confusing at first because you’ll find a lot of choices that indicate Off-Season or Peak Season, Pass 4 or Pass 7, etc. But once you choose your date, the page will indicate if the date you’ve chosen is off or peak season. Then you can choose from there.
If you will be booking the Entry + Express pass combo option on KKday, please note that your preferred dates may not be available yet. If you’ll be booking the Entry Pass ticket page pass ONLY, dates for 4-6 months are available. But if you’ll be booking the combo option, it may not be available until the first week of the month of your preferred date.
In my case, I wanted to book around 2nd or 3rd week of May 2018, but express passes weren’t available for June 26, 2018 yet. The only available dates were until June 24 so I had to wait. Express passes online are known to sell out easily so be on the lookout especially if you want to spend your time at USJ on a specific date. When I checked last May 28 and it was already available, I booked at once.
You can find all the features and included rides for each universal express pass through the official USJ website. The features may vary depending on availability of attractions per season so please check this link before your trip.
We booked the Universal Express Pass 4 which includes:
- Timed Entry Pass to the WWoHP
- Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman OR Jurassic Park – The Ride
- Jaws OR Terminator OR Backdraft
After choosing the USJ package, I booked for 2 adults then typed in the traveler and buyer information (name, date of birth, email address, gender, nationality). I put the same information on both tabs.
STEP 4 Payment
I booked the tickets last May 28, 2018. During that time, the app asked for a credit card option. But when I checked out, the payment was not processing so I did the whole booking again via my desktop browser.
On my browser, payment included a PAYPAL option so this is what I chose. It was a breeze after that.
Please note that after a quick trial booking (as of August 2018), credit card payment is the only available option via app or desktop browser.
Here are some price comparisons if you book your passes directly at USJ and via KKday:
- USJ 1 Day Studio Pass (1 adult)
Direct: ₱3,784 (¥7,900)
Since KKday does not sell Universal Express Passes on its own, here’s a comparison for the combo passes:
- USJ 1 Day Entry Pass + Express Pass 4 (1 adult)
Direct: ₱3,784 (¥7,900) + ₱2,491 (¥5,200) = ₱6,275
These prices were as of May 2018 when we booked the USJ passes. The price was tagged as off-season. Please note that KKday prices and exchange rates vary day to day.
The rates on KKday are more expensive during peak season dates and can amount to as much as ₱7,000+ for the Universal Entry + Express Pass 4 combo. Back in 2015, my sister and I really wanted to avail express passes but after a 45 minute line to purchase our entry passes, express passes were already sold out.
This was really disappointing. With the park’s popularity, I really doubt that you can purchase any express passes on the spot as the passes already tend to get sold out online. What more if you buy direct, right? You’re paying for convenience and in advance which I feel is worth the price. I had the chance to experience USJ with and without express passes. The relief of express lanes is so satisfying! SUPER! PROMISE!
If you want further price reduced USJ passes, make sure you follow KKday’s social media accounts so you’re aware of occasional promos, contests, and discounts!
STEP 5 Wait Gratefully for your Passes!
After checking-out the ticket, I immediately received an email that my order was being processed (May 28, 2018 4:15PM). I also checked the Order tab on my KKday app and my USJ tickets were labeled as Processing.
I received our USJ entry and express passes later that night (May 28, 2018 11:17PM) attached in PDF forms (entry passes) and PNG files (express passes) via email. I also checked my KKday app and my USJ tickets were already labeled Order Complete.
When I clicked on View Voucher, I found the same files attached in the email on my app so I downloaded the files from the app to my phone.
STEP 6 Wait Gratefully for your Theme Park Day!
A day before our visit to USJ, KKday sent a reminder email about our upcoming activity advising us to review the information on our passes.
STEP 7 Theme Park Day! How to use your USJ passes booked via KKday?
When you receive your passes via email or app, you’ll find on the express pass PNG files that you need to print it on A4 paper. I saved all the files on our phones and printed all the passes as well.
During entry to USJ, my sister and I experimented if both soft & hard copies could work. She entered using the printed pass while I opened the file on my phone. Both worked! The USJ staff just asked me to zoom in the QR code and all was well!
For the rest of our time at USJ, we didn’t use the printed passes. I just took out my phone, zoomed in the QR codes, and the USJ staff just scanned them. No one asked for the printed version. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!
Throughout our time at USJ, we did see quite a number of people holding up printed versions of their passes but we also saw a lot who used their mobile e-copies. So the next time we visit, we’ll save on paper and just rely on the saved documents on our phones.
Important details that you have to take note of are the ones in the Express Pass PNG files because it includes the specific times you have to be at a specific attraction. This is mostly significant for the Harry Potter & Forbidden Journey and Minion Mayhem rides + the timed entry hours for WWoHP. Work your way around the indicated times on these rides and the rest of the features of the express pass can be experienced randomly.
STEP 8 KKday Feedback!
After your trip or day at USJ, at your convenience of course, find the time to review your experiences with the activity passes you booked via KKday. Not only will you help other tourists with your reviews but you also receive a $10 (₱531+) off coupon for your next $50 (₱2,655+) or more KKday booking!
I had the chance to experience both scenarios of booking passes in advance and directly at USJ. Here’s a comparison:
|USJ 2015 (WITHOUT passes)||USJ 2018 (WITH passes booked via KKday)|
|Purchase of entry passes and entry to USJ||45 minutes in line to buy tickets + 1 minute entry to USJ, express passes were sold out||5 minutes in line for entry to USJ|
|Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey||2 hours in line||10 minutes in line|
|Total attraction experiences||1 ride and 2 theater shows||5 rides (6 rides for my sister)|
If you’re visiting USJ and experiencing it for 1 day only, I strongly recommend purchasing this entry + express passes combo from KKday. You’ll be able to experience more of what USJ can really offer.
Skip long lines and avail your Universal Studios Japan entry and express passes via KKday! #KKdayPH #TravelWithKKday
For more information, visit www.kkday.com/en-ph or inquire at email@example.com
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN (USJ)
Since it was my sister’s first time in Osaka, a day at USJ was a must! I wanted to return as well because my experience 3 years prior wasn’t a fully maximizing one for me. Let me share with you our thrilling experiences at USJ and some tips to help make your visit an amazing and productive one!
I’m starting off with weather because OH DAMN! SOBRANG INIT! We visited last June 2018 which is usually the start of summer in Japan and lasts through mid-September. If you’ve been aware of some news lines lately, the heat in Japan has become deadly. There have been reports that up to 65 people have died in just one week. I’ve also seen photos wherein a display of replica food at a Japanese restaurant has melted.
During our recent visit to Japan, we adjusted well to the weather during the first day because it was similar to the weather in the Philippines. It was a bit different at times because although it was hot, it wasn’t that humid. It was windy at times which I think was a nice balance because you get the right amount of heat and light with the perfect gush of wind. But for the next few days, we did feel that the heat was starting to make us uncomfortable and this was the case during our time at USJ.
We experienced different weather conditions at USJ. In the morning, it was very hot and windy. By noon, it was extremely hot. This continued until mid-afternoon. Then in the early evening, it rained! After the shower, it became hot and humid. If we were in fast forward mode, we could have definitely made a montage of the weather. HAHAHAHA!
If you’re planning to visit USJ during the summer months, make sure to:
- Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and caps/hats
- Bring a fan or automatic travel fans (we saw a lot of park guests using this while walking around the park)
- Drink a lot of water! Water in the park is very expensive. If you buy the ILOHAS water outside the park in convenience stores, it’s only ¥110 (₱53). But if you buy it inside the park, it’s ¥250 (₱121). More so at the WWoHP where the Gilly Water is a whopping ¥350 (₱169)! All over the park, you’ll find food carts selling water submerged in ice. It’s very tempting especially during the hot day! If you want to save money, there are water fountains available all throughout the park for you to refill your bottles but it’s not cold. My sister didn’t like the taste of the water as well.
- When my sister and I would find it too hot, we walked towards the Hollywood Boulevard area and sat on the benches. The wind that passes through that area is so refreshing! My sister and I would just rest and cool off there. This area also has the strongest Wi-Fi signal.
- Bring extra clothes
- A lot of locals also brought umbrellas. Try to buy from the convenience stores outside the park because it will definitely be more expensive if you purchase one inside the park.
- Join USJ’s Summer Exclusives! To beat the summer heat, USJ has prepared a few summer features like water gun parades and battles inside the park – Universal Summer Festival (USF) & One Piece Premier Summer (OPPS). My sister had the chance to experience the USF (more on this later!) while we didn’t experience the OPPS because it hasn’t started yet during our visit. The OPPS began last July 6, 2018 and features a One Piece Water Battle, One Piece Premier Show, a “Feast” Restaurant, and many more. During the summer period, these events will occur within the Water World and Jurassic Park areas. These summer events will definitely cool you off but make sure to bring a set of extra clothes!
- Wear comfortable and breezy clothes!
Entry to USJ
We arrived at USJ at around 9AM. There were already a lot of people in line to purchase tickets and to enter the park. When we got there, we sat near the USJ globe and ate the snacks we bought from 7 eleven as our light breakfast. After eating, the park was still closed so my sister and I took photos at the USJ globe.
At 9:25AM, the line started to move so my sister and I fell in line as well. I decided to test out the use of the entry passes booked via KKday and instructed my sister to use the hard copy while I use the e-document saved on my phone. Although the line looked pretty long, the queue was quick. Guests just scanned in their passes and they were in!
The USJ staff was all smiles and all help at the entrances too. My sister got in ahead of me because we lined up at different queues. When it was my turn, I showed the staff my phone and she gestured me to zoom in the QR Code for scanning. It green lighted and I was good to go!
My sister and I packed the hard copies of the passes in our bags and just used the mobile copies all throughout the day.
The entrance area was overwhelming! ANG DAMING TAO! The traffic was insane. I kind of expected less people on a weekday compared to what I experienced years before. But it was kind of the same, I think there were even MORE people that time around.
My sister and I sat by the benches at the Hollywood Boulevard first to configure the WiFi access. I just observed the plethora of people passing by us all set to have an amazing day at one of the best parks in the world. It was crazy fun!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
You two better change into robes. I expect we’ll be arriving soon! My sisters and I have imitated Hermione’s lines in the movies countless times. There’s just something about her lines and accent that is so fun (not funny!) to act out!
My sisters and I are not big fans of Harry Potter. We like it a normal amount. Believe me! I have friends who are die hard fans of the franchise and I don’t even think I’ve met the most fanatic ones yet. But having the chance to experience the Harry Potter world was something amazing especially having grown up watching the movies for almost 9 years.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in USJ is the only one of its kind in Asia (hopefully that will change soon? I want a Diagon Alley in Asia, please!). So it was not a surprise that just 10 minutes after opening, the whole area felt like a semi-rally was to be held. ANG DAMING TAO!
I’ve loved my experiences at WWoHP back in 2015 and I loved it still last June 2018. Let me share with you our magical experiences in this amazing world!
HARRY POTTER TIMED ENTRY TICKET
Alohamora! After my first visit, a lot of people asked me if they needed to buy separate tickets for USJ and the WWoHP. The answer is NO. When you buy a USJ Entry Pass, you can experience the Harry Potter world. So what is the Harry Potter timed entry ticket?
Due to the area’s popularity, this ticket is issued to accommodate a certain maximum of guests at each time period. When you enter the park, proceed to the Central Park area and obtain this ticket. There is NO additional payment for this.
If you purchase a UNIVERSAL EXPRESS PASS in advance, a designated time will already be allotted for you to enter the WWoHP.
Back in 2015, my youngest sister and I had to obtain the timed ticket. Our tickets were assigned for a 12:30NN entry. But last June 2018, when we passed by the entrance to the WWoHP, there was no staff asking for the timed entry ticket, we just went in along with other guests who freely passed.
Later that afternoon, we passed by the Central Park area where timed entry tickets are usually issued and found a sign that there will be no timed entry tickets to be issued that day because it was implied that there were “lesser crowds”.
During your visit, try to pass by the Harry Potter world first even though it’s not during your designated time. If no one’s asking for the timed entry ticket, then you can freely pass.
- USJ Entry Pass – Entry to USJ and all its attractions INCLUDING the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Harry Potter Timed Entry Ticket – a designated timed ticket for entry to the WWoHP to be issued at the Central Park Area. No additional payment! Check WWoHP entrance FIRST if this is required
- Universal Express Pass – Entry to USJ is not included. These are tickets for express lanes all over the park + timed entry ticket to WWoHP (if applicable). You cannot use this if you do not have Entry passes.
ENTRY TO THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
The dark forest is strictly forbidden to all students. I remember when my youngest sister and I entered the WWoHP and the movie’s song started to play. It was chilling and I had goosebumps all over! We were really there! It was so overwhelming! The music draws you in. You’ll definitely feel like your world’s about to change!
Your sons flew that enchanted car of yours to Surrey and back last night. Did you really? How did it go? I mean…that was very wrong indeed, boys. Very wrong of you! HAHAHAHAHA! One of the funniest moments in HP 2!
The enchanted car was still there. It felt like I was back in 2015 taking a photo of it with my youngest sister then 3 years later, I was there once again taking a photo of it with my other sister. Time turner feeling!
The traffic of people started to pick up and we knew we were close. The entrance to Hogsmeade and the corresponding movie theme song doesn’t get old. Everything unfolding around us felt like I was really in a scene of the movie or a page of the books. This world was indeed magical.
Although there were a lot of people walking through outside, what’s different during our recent trip is that there weren’t any lines going into the shops. Since we had some minutes left before our designated time for the HP ride, we decided to explore all the shops.
Honeydukes was filled with all kinds of sweets and colorful designs of playful colors. What I really wanted to try was the pumpkin juice but it was too expensive. Since we planned to have lunch at the Three Broomsticks, we didn’t purchase anything at the shops. The Zonko’s joke shop is located at a small corner inside Honeydukes where you can find different toy like items.
Ollivanders & Gladrags were sort of the same as the shop sold wands, robes, and other HP souvenirs. The Hogwarts sweaters and jackets were tempting to purchase but it cost around ₱6,000+.
If you find that there are too many people at the souvenir shops, there are also wand shop carts outside where you can purchase Wizarding items.
No one ever comes in here. Why? Moaning Myrtle. Before the ride, I went to the bathroom first and I was really fascinated! HAHAHAHA! Because while I was peeing, the sound effects playing were of a Japanese Moaning Myrtle! It was really amusing and cool! So unexpected! I didn’t get to experience this back in 2015 so it was really fun!
HARRY POTTER & THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY
Crucio! I still remember the look of my youngest sister’s face at me when we were an hour in at the line for this ride. Aw man! She looked so mad and annoyed at me. My sister hates rides and even more, LINES! At the time, she didn’t feel it was worth it. At some point during the line, I even felt the same. But prior to that trip, I read that it was the best ride ever so we just endured through it.
A 2 hour wait was excruciating! HAHAHAHA! Although the scenes of the mandrake greenhouse were fun to pass through, the long line still required a lot of patience. But in the end, it was well worth it because we did have fun!
It was really an amazing ride.
But…to go through that twice? NOPE! HAHAHA!
If express passes are an option, I will choose this option.
Before our recent trip, I found out that the ride was renewed and it included new features. So I was really excited about that!
After exploring Hogsmeade, my sister and I headed to the entrance of the ride. The line for those without expresses already estimate a 120 minute wait. There was one long straight line for the express pass so we queued here. This line took around 10 minutes.
When our passes were scanned, they handed us a laminated sheet as a pass for the lockers. The locker area was MADNESS! Everyone was scrambling for their lockers. Some were even pushing! It was a bit chaotic at this area. After putting our small bags inside the locker, we gave the laminated sheet back to the USJ staff.
It’s not real the ceiling. It’s just bewitched to look like the night sky. I’ve read about it in Hogwarts, A History. Walking through Hogwarts, we passed by live painting screens and the sorting hat. They were speaking in Japanese though.
The orange and black hue of the castle was chilling and exciting! I felt like I was a student sneaking out of my Potions class. The cold was also a welcome relief after the heat outside when we were exploring Hogsmeade.
The ride was still amazing as ever! What changed this time around is that the added special effects were felt physically like mist or steam or water or heat. It was definitely a new experience but saving Hogwarts with Harry Potter was so much fun! It was still in Japanese but the concept was obvious. It was still a fantastic ride overall and definitely worth the experience a second time around.
THREE BROOMSTICKS & HOG’S HEAD
Oh, the Three Broomsticks and I go way back! After the ride, we headed straight to the Three Broomsticks. Since we only had light snacks for breakfast, we wanted a heavy lunch.
The menu was still the same and it featured the concept of The Feast in the movies. I ordered the Fish & Chips platter while my sister had the Rotisserie Smoked Chicken platter and of course, 2 frozen butterbeers!
This drink was so refreshing especially after a grueling mission of combating dark lords and playing Quidditch! HAHAHAHA! Our whole meal cost us around ₱3,000+. If you’re interested in just buying the ButterBeer, it costs ¥600/₱290 (regular) or ¥700/₱338 (frozen). You can also purchase this at ButterBeer carts around the WWoHP.
If you’re looking for alcoholic beverages, they are available for purchase at Hog’s Head. It is also inside the Three Broomsticks but on the other side with a different counter.
After eating, my sister and I took our ButterBeers and hung out outside where we can see the view of the Hogwarts Castle and Black Lake. It’s very picturesque because of the castle’s reflection on the lake.
It was mesmerizing too because different soundtracks of the movie were playing. It was such a relaxing and overwhelming moment to be in that area. If you want a great photo of the castle, this is the best spot to take one!
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- Hogwarts Castle Walk – You can experience this even if you’re not riding the Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey attraction. Just ask the USJ staff where the entrance for this walk would be.
- Street Entertainment – Wand Studies, Frog Choir, Triwizard Spirit Rally
- Hogwarts Express Photo
- Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment
- Owl Post & Owlery
- Dervish & Banges
- Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods
- Zonko’s Joke Shop
- Gladrags Wizardwear
A block that resembles the greatest city the world! During my first visit to USJ, I loved this area. I loved everything New York! The apartments and buildings were mini replicas full of charm and Instagram-worthy exteriors.
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF SPIDERMAN
After the WWoHP, we had the chance to squeeze in a ride before our designated time for Despicable Me’s Minion Mayhem so we decided to go to the New York area for Spiderman: The Ride.
On the Express Pass, we had the chance to choose between this ride or Jurassic Park but when we got there, no lane was provided for express pass holders. All guests were being led inside by a single line.
We found out that the queue wasn’t that long so the express pass wasn’t scanned. The line took less than 5 minutes. This ride was really fun! It had a few features that resembled HP & the Forbidden Journey but it also had its unique thrilling concept!
My sister said she liked this ride more than the Harry Potter one but I felt that both were good on their own. The language of the ride is in Japanese but the story is pretty obvious – fighting crime, villains, etc!
On our express passes, we had the chance to choose between the Terminator show or Backdraft or Jaws. During my first visit, my youngest sister and I already saw this and I advised my sister that we should try another attraction because the whole show is in Japanese. I think this feature is also available at Universal Studios Singapore.
During summer, the New York area also hosts the Minions Snow Fight. On our way to the Spiderman ride, we saw a lot of guests converged at the main buildings of New York watching a show with dancing Minions.
We passed by Gramercy Park where a lot of USJ staff were wearing summer shirts and holding up small to huge water guns. This is the special viewing area for the Water Surprise Parade. Aside from this, you can also check out:
- Summer Splash Market
- Finnegan’s Bar & Grill
- Louie’s NY Pizza Parlor – After the Spiderman ride, we decided to cool off at Louie’s because it was getting scorching hot outside! But WHOA! There were so many people at this restaurant! Long lines at the counter and almost every seat in the establishment filled. The doors were open so a bit of heat gets inside so the feeling of cold + heat + sweat was uncomfortable.
- Saido Japanese Restaurant
- Park Side Grille
- Azzura di Capri Pizza
- The Amazing Spiderman Store
- Universal Studios Souvenirs
- Street Shows – Sesame Street Rhythm Alive, Minions Hacha-Mecha Surprise, and Violin Trio 2018
After cooling off at Louie’s, we headed out to the Minion Park. I was really excited for this because this area wasn’t at USJ yet when I visited back in 2015. This was a new feature of the park for me.
Although the park seemed crammed in a small area, it was very lively. Not because of the traffic but because of all the splash of colors all over. It was like a mini-carnival.
DESPICABLE ME MINION MAYHEM
Our express pass’s designated time for this ride was 13:50 – 14:20. When we got to the entrance of the ride at the end area of the Minion Park, there was a staff checking passes. He asked to check the time of our passes and we said 1:50. He scanned our tickets and we followed the express lane queue inside.
Throughout the walk, we saw the line for those without express passes. It was very long! There were like 3 blocks of swirly lines. In that moment, I felt like I was back at that 2 hour line for the HP & the Forbidden Journey ride. The Express Lane and Passes definitely provide relief! My sister was really happy to be in the express lane too.
The build-up to this ride takes quite a while as there are 2-3 screenings before you actually experience the ride. What I liked about this was that the clips had English subtitles! A first at this park! What I loved most about this ride was the GRAPHICS! SOBRANG LINAW! Way better than the graphics at the WWoHP ride! It was like I was watching an IMAX film. ANG GALING!
I don’t want to give anything away by sharing specific details of the ride BUT THIS WAS MY FAVORITE RIDE during our recent trip to Japan! This was my sister’s least favorite but this was my TOP 1!
Thrilling is an understatement for this ride. You’ll be out of breath so many times! With the kind of graphics and concept this ride has, it was definitely the BEST for me! The drops, halts, colors, bounces, and MANY MORE! ONE OF THE BEST!
After the ride, I did feel a bit dizzy but it was well worth the experience! And I never usually say this about a ride. It was that good for me!
After the ride, I wanted something sweet to combat the dizziness so I stayed behind the park while my sister headed off to the bathroom. There was quite a line at the Delicious Me! Minion Kitchen so I decided to buy a snack there.
The cookie ice cream looked really cute and delicious so I purchased it. It was a Minion designed cookie shortbread sandwich with strawberry cream filling. I thought it was ice cream but it was just frozen cream. It was too sweet! I didn’t think this was worth the money.
My sister took quite a while so I just watched around. It was really getting hot then and I noticed an old woman being tended to at a corner. She looked dehydrated and was about to faint. The USJ staff and probably family member were holding up fans and water bottles.
SOBRANG INIT TALAGA! After some minutes, my sister came back and apologized for her long absence. She told me that she got to witness the,
- Water Surprise Parade – I really envied her! She got to see floats and mascots. There was no specific time for the parade on the pamphlets so we didn’t know when this would start. We probably finished around 2:30PM at the Minion Mayhem ride so the parade probably started a bit before that because my sister said when she came across the parade, the USJ staff holding up water guns during the parade were not in use of them anymore. There was no water inside the guns anymore. She got to take a few video clips and showed them to me. It looked really fun! With the heat at that time of the day, the relief of that water parade would have been refreshing! Try to watch out for this during your visit!
- Freeze Ray Sliders
- Playland – Space Killer and Banana Cabana – This looked like a carnival area with kiddie rides and game booths
- Minions Hacha-Mecha Greeting
- Delicious Me! The Cookie Kitchen
- Minion Market Place
Throughout the Minion park and even USJ, we saw quite a few Minion mascots and they were so adorable! A lot wanted to take photos with them though so it was quite hard to take a good photo with them.
I liked the San Francisco area even during my first visit because this had the docks area overlooking the lagoon. I love anything with docks!
After the Minion Park, it was quite hot to stay at this area but we did hang out here at around 6PM or later to just watch the view with the highway bridge of Osaka. Although it rained just a few minutes before, it felt cooling. We bought beer and a turkey leg at a nearby food cart and just relaxed there.
By the wooden bleachers, you’ll also see a few water faucets with signs that they’re not for drinking. These faucets are actually meant to refill guests’ water guns during USJ’s summer events (water parades and battles).
- Backdraft – My sister and I chose to use the Express Pass for Jaws so we didn’t get to line up for this. We also felt that we could pass on this as we experienced a similar theater show of special effects just like this one at Universal Studios Singapore – Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg.
- Happiness Café
- The Dragon’s Pearl
The most popular feature at this area is the hanging shark. I’ve seen a lot of people post with this online. This has been a USJ staple probably since the USJ parks were established. Jaws is pretty iconic and the lines at the ride and the shark photo booth justifies that.
My sister and I decided to use the express pass lane for Jaws. It was a relief to take this ride after experiencing the Harry Potter, Spiderman, and Minion Mayhem rides.
The express lane wait was around 5 minutes. We saw the line for guests without express passes. It was just thrice as long as ours so I think it’s okay for you to not use the express pass scan here.
This ride is a tour boat that lets you experience special effects and concept scenes of the movie Jaws. What I really liked about this was the guide’s lively and full of action acting. Although he was speaking in Japanese, the story can be implied. I’ve never watched the movie but it was really obvious what would happen.
- Amity Landing Restaurant – After the JAWS ride, my sister and I just relaxed again to rest our feet and cool off. It was still hot outside at the time. This restaurant looked like an old bar in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
- Boardwalk Snacks
- Nitro Dance Crew
We wanted to experience the theatre show at this theme park area but it was closed during our visit. According to the Studio Guide, it is said to feature a powerful action show with incredible stunts and reenactments of the Water World movie.
As indicated in the Summer Exclusives above, from July 6, this area stages the One Piece Premier Show that starts around 7PM.
My sister and I didn’t really explore this place but we passed by this a few times. We just stopped when there was a street show of Snoopy characters dancing. They were so cute! If you do enter this place, it feels like a kid’s world! Because it is!
But if you’re a fan of Hello Kitty, you’ll love this place! For families with kids, there are quite a number of shows and rides that will definitely keep them occupied.
- The Flying Snoopy
- Snoopy’s Backlot Café
- Snoopy’s Great Race
- Hello Kitty’s Ribbon Collection
- Hello Kitty’s Cupcake Dream
- Elmo’s Go-Go Skateboard
- Moppy’s Balloon Trip
- Sesame’s Big Drive
- Big Bird’s Big Top Circus
- Elmo’s Little Drive
- Elmo’s Bubble Bubble
- Wonderland Happy Greeting
We passed by the Jurassic Park area on our way to the Jaws ride but didn’t intend to ride anything there. We did stop there for a photo-op because there was suddenly a big ass dinosaur in our midst. It looked so real! A lot of people were blocking and we were based by its butt so that was definitely a laugh!
The Jurassic Park area is hard to miss as well because of all the shouting coming from the Flying Dinosaur ride. That ride had a lot of twists and turns!
We also bought water at the nearby Discovery Restaurant and sat for a few minutes to watch the view of the docks from another angle.
Just like at the WWoHP, the Jurassic Park’s theme song and environment gave me chills. I really liked the recent movie that came out from the franchise – Jurassic World. With the theme song, I felt like I was there minus the threatening dinosaurs out to kill humans. HAHAHAHA!
JURASSIC PARK – THE RIDE
When we passed through this area, we decided not to take this ride because we already had the chance to experience this at Universal Studios Singapore (USS). But later on, we decided that since we didn’t use the express pass for Spiderman, we might as well use it for this one!
When we got at the entrance, the staff informed us that there will be a 20 minute wait for all because the rides were being changed. We didn’t know what that meant but we agreed and fell in line.
10 minutes in, it started to rain and other guests were starting to put on their plastic rain coats probably purchased within that area as well. My sister and I just hoped that we wouldn’t get wet! HAHAHA! WE WISH!
After a 30 minute wait, it was still raining hard! We decided to wing it and just go with the ride. What I noticed was that the seats on this ride were different from USS’. USS’ resembled the ones at Enchanted Kingdom’s Rio Grande Rapids while the one at USJ was more like a roller coaster.
When we were seated, we started to feel the rain and all the guests were laughing and covering themselves! My sister and I placed our bags beneath our feet hoping our electronics don’t get wet. We were really laughing because we were starting to get really soaked by the rain! We were amused by the guy beside us because he was covering his head with his hands and we were like, “as if that would help”! HAHAHA! Not in a snobby sarcastic way, just a funny moment! My sister and I were worried and laughing all at the same time!
And then OFF WE WENT!
This ride is a MORE INTENSE version of EK’s Rio Grande Rapids + Log Jam!
OMG! THIS WAS MY 2ND FAVORITE RIDE!
YUNG ENDING TALAGA YUNG DAPAT ABANGAN!
The vertical drop at the end was just that, FREAKING VERTICAL! I didn’t expect it to be that HIGH! OMG!
And YES! SOBRANG NABASA KAMI! We were soaking wet! And we didn’t care! Our electronics were fine! Don’t worry!
GRABE! SOBRANG SAYA! Writing this down, I still remember the amazing thrill of it! I’m very glad that we went back to this ride and experienced it! A MUST TRY! When you experience this, I hope it also rains! The rain was an added bonus!
FAVORITE RIDE! My sister loved this also! HAHAHAHAHA! But yes! If you’re riding this, BRING EXTRA CLOTHES! HAHAHAHAHA!
I don’t want to specifically detail everything that happened during this ride but THIS IS A MUST! If given the chance, I would ride this 5 MORE TIMES! I want you to be surprised and have fun on your own! But YES! That was one of the best endings I’ve ever had in my life! HAHAHAHA!
WHAT A THRILL!
After the Jurassic Park – The Ride, my sister and I freshened up a bit. After half an hour, she insisted on riding the Hollywood Dream rollercoaster. I passed on this because I hate roller coasters.
When my sister was experiencing the ride, I rested at our favorite spot to cool off, Hollywood Boulevard. While I was waiting for her, I did notice that guests were already saving their spots for the USJ Night Parade. This was around 5:30PM. Knowing that the parade would start at 8PM, this was pretty early.
When my sister came back, she said that the roller coaster was her Top 1 ride out of everything we experienced. She deemed it better because the thrill was outside and not through graphics inside a room like all other ride attractions we experienced.
We had dinner at Mel’s Drive-in wherein earlier that day, we watched street shows of western artists singing to mainstream pop songs. This feature can also be experienced at USS.
UNIVERSAL SPECTACLE NIGHT PARADE: THE BEST OF HOLLYWOOD
Aside from the Minion Park, one of the attractions we were most excited for was the Universal Spectacle Night Parade: The Best of Hollywood. It just started 1 month before we visited so we were excited to experience something new! I was really excited to write about this too because not a lot have experienced this or have written about it yet.
On our way to Mel’s Drive-in, we did see a few USJ staff setting up these barriers for the special viewing area.
This requires an additional ticket purchase wherein you have to enter 20-30 minutes before the parade starts. The special viewing area is at Hollywood Boulevard, our favorite spot to cool off.
At around 7:15PM, we started to walk back to find a spot at the Hollywood area where the parade is expected to pass through first but we noticed a few USJ staff wearing raincoats disassembling the special viewing area barriers.
I started to frown at this point. My sister approached them and asked what was going on and we found out that due to intermittent weather, the parade for that day was cancelled.
We were really disappointed because we really wanted to experience this! I’ve seen some previews and photos through their official media channels and I think they looked amazing. I loved the Fantasmic! show at Disney Sea so I expected this would be spectacular as well.
Walking towards the exit, we saw guests sitting by the curbs probably disappointed by the announcement as well.
But we just accepted and were still grateful for a thrilling day! We experienced so much in a day and we couldn’t be more grateful for all the amazing moments!
- Hollywood Dream – The Ride
- Hollywood Dream – The Ride – Backdrop
- Space Fantasy – The Ride
- Sesame Street 4D Movie Magic
- Shrek’s 4D Adventure
- Universal Monsters Live Rock & Roll Show – I already watched this back in 2015 with my youngest sister but my middle sister wanted to see this too. Unfortunately, this wasn’t operational during our visit. This show is also featured at USS in English.
- Playing with Curious George
- Eternal Wish – Wishing on a Star Together
- Studios Stars Restaurant
- Beverly Hills Boulangerie
- Power of Pop
- Minions Super Greeting
BEST RIDES AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
USJ RIDES RANKED!
|1||Minion Mayhem||Hollywood Dream – The Ride|
|2||Jurassic Park – The Ride||Jurassic Park – The Ride|
|3||Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey||The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman|
|4||The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman||Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey|
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN THEME PARK TIPS
- At the park’s entrance, there are coin lockers that you can rent out.
- Bring extra clothes if you’ll be experiencing Jurassic Park – The Ride
- Use waterproof bags / zip locks for your electronics
- Pack light – a small bag with your phone, camera, snacks, extra clothes is enough
- Wear comfortable shoes! During our theme park day, my sister and I recorded around 18,000 steps for the whole day! We walked a lot!
- AGAIN! Drink lots of water!
- Expect lines! Weekend, weekday, off season, or peak season! Expect a lot of people! There’s no way around it! USJ is a very popular theme park.
- Go on a weekday (Tuesday or Wednesday). I’ve read some articles that indicate these days as having the least crowds. Back in 2015, I went on a weekend. On our recent trip, we went on a Tuesday. In my opinion, the traffic of people felt the same.
- You can only access the theme park’s free WiFi thrice with a 15 minute use for each period. If you want to stay connected the whole day, purchase a pocket WiFi. The strongest signal is at the Hollywood area.
- Food bought from outside the park is not allowed. Eat heavy breakfast at your hotel or purchase snacks from convenience stores to eat before you enter the park. Stay full so you can just eat once or twice inside the park.
- Expect that EVERYTHING will be VERY expensive inside the park – souvenirs, food, water, etc. If you want to save a bit, you can purchase a shopping voucher from KKday which entitles you to some discounts at USJ stores.
- Book your entry and express passes in advance via KKday to skip long lines! If you’re experiencing USJ for ONE day and want to maximize your time, I really recommend that you book your USJ passes in advance!
- Prices may vary depending on exchange rate. As of August 2018, ¥1 = ₱0.48
- Specific theme park details are based from information available at usj.co.jp/e and USJ’s Studio Guide Map & Information + Today’s Events pamphlets obtained during our day of visit.
- Attractions indicated in this write-up may be subject to availability as some rides/shows may be seasonal or operational for a limited time only.
This is a sponsored write-up. My experiences with products & services may or may not be the same as yours. All opinions are inspired by my (& my sister’s) experiences & nothing else.