When you visit Japan, visiting an American based establishment is probably the furthest from your mind. However, you may find it interesting to see how the foreign businesses operate in Japan. There are always subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences when catering to the Japanese market.
One such place is Universal Studios Japan, which opened in the Osaka Bay area back in March of 2001. It was the first theme park under the Universal Studios brand to be built in Asia and receives over 10 million visitors a year, making it the second most visited amusement park after Tokyo Disney Resort.
The park sits on 390,000 square meters and is similar to the Universal Orlando Resort, containing selected attractions from Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood. The attractions are arranged in eight distinct areas of the park. The newest area, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, opened on July 15, 2014 with its flagship attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter area was modeled after the ones based in Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood. Although a majority of the attractions here are the same as the ones found in the U.S. there are also attractions that are unique to Universal Studios Japan, such as Hogwarts Express Photo.
Each area is broken down as follows:
- New York
- San Francisco
- Jurrasic Park
- Amity Village
- Universal Wonderland
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The area designated as Hollywood features Hollywood Dream (The Ride) and Space Fantasy (The Ride) as well as various 4D attractions. From there, you can move on to New York and ride the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman ride or move to the theater to watch Terminator 2. There are various stage and street shows in this area. San Francisco is right around the corner where you can experience Back to the Future (The Ride) or come face to face with an inferno in Backdraft. Visitors can go back in time when they visit the Jurrasic Park area and ride the Jurassic Park ride or see how they react when they encounter carnivorous velociraptors prowling the streets. Who can remember the popularity of the movie Jaws? The 1975 American thriller directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name caused so many people to fear the water! Visit quiet Amity Village and take part in the boat tour where things become rather unsettling fairly quickly. Rounding the park we have Universal Wonderland, home to Snoopy Studios, Hello Kitty Fashion Avenue and Sesame Street Fun World. Finally, there is the live theater presentation in Waterworld with amazing stunts and breathtaking action.
The park also features a nighttime parade called The Magical Starlight Parade showcasing numerous illuminated floats. Please note that there is an extra charge to access the special viewing area.
Just outside the park’s gates is Universal Citywalk, a shopping and dining area, which also features multiple official Universal hotels. When visiting the Citywalk, make sure to stop by at the Osaka Takoyaki Museum featuring various vendors of the dish, which was invented in Osaka 75 years ago!
The theme park is easily accessible via the JR Yumesaki Line, the entrance gate of the Universal Studios Japan is merely a five minute walk from the Universal City Station.