Saturday, January 5, 2008

Universal Studios Japan (USJ)

Universal Studios Japan is one of the newest attractions in Osaka. Having never been to the original Universal Studios in the US, I wanted to check out its Japanese counterpart (which opened only a few years ago) during the few days break I got from work. Entrance tickets can be bought at the attraction (loooong lines), from JR or at the partnering hotels. I got it from my hotel for ¥5800 for a single day pass (from around 9:30 am to 8 pm). Even though it was pretty windy and cold the place was full of people (mostly Japanese of course) so I am pretty sure on a warmer day or in the summer it would be impossible to get on any rides without waiting a good few hours.
Talking about the wait times - make sure you get in early and buy the express booklets. They basically let you bypass the waiting lines but they run out pretty quickly. You can buy these from the main souvenir shop right at the entrance. There are two types - Express 4 lets you bypass the waiting lines on the four most popular rides and Express 7 does the same on seven (pretty much every) popular rides. They are lifesavers and well worth the money if you think about all the time you are saving (more than half an hour per ride) and all the rides you can therefore try in that extra time. They also had a pretty nice show at night by a huge Christmas tree (even though this was after Christmas) singing carols. Unfortunately I just had a day there but I will try to either go back or visit the original in the US. Since I did not buy the Express Booklets and they ran out, I only got to try two rides - Back to the Future and Spiderman. The second one I enjoyed more since BTF had way too much movement and my motion sickness kinda kicked in. Oh and a word of warning - all the rides are designed in Japanese so you will get to read the descriptions and the warnings in English but all the videos and announcements will be in Japanese...

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