Monday, May 5, 2014

Japan Day 2: Universal Studios Japan

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Universal Studios Japan is a fun place for the whole family  so it was not a surprise that this was one of the top spots on our list of places to visit when we made our itinerary,

Universal Studios Japan is located within the main city of Osaka itself, so traveling via bus or train is convenient. The park opened in 2001, and is the first Universal park to open in Asia. The hottest rides in the theme park are the rides based on popular movies such as Spiderman, Back to the Future, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park. In July 2014, the Harry Potter attraction is scheduled to be added. My daughters love Harry Potter, and they are sad that we are a few months early and would not be able to catch the opening.

The operating hours at Universal Studios Japan vary greatly during the year. It is a good idea to check the park operation hours before going to avoid any ruining your plans, because some days it is only open until 6 pm: You can check the park hours here:

The requisite photo op before we enter the Universal Studios gate.

Spider-Man is the hottest ride and we headed there first only to find out there's a 80-minute wait for the ride.  We went to watch Terminator, instead. The show was dubbed in Japanese, but it didn't really matter that we didn't understand anything. The effects was still spectacular.

When we came back for Spiderman later in the day, the waiting time was 60 minutes, still a long wait but relatively better.
If you've been to other Universal Studios before, then you might want to give some of the shows a pass since they are all dubbed in Japanese, anyway. The kids have seen most of the shows when we took them to Singapore a few years ago, so we skipped most of them this time around.  Only focusing on those that the kids didn't see yet.

We all enjoyed Backdraft. The kids did not want to go in at first, but I remember being impressed by it the first time I experienced it in Universal Studios Hollywood more than 20 years ago.  The movie was shown such a long time ago, so it doesn't have that much recall with this generation.  I think USJ is the only place where Backdraft is still playing because the one in Hollywood was closed down already some years back.  And the newer parks don't have this anymore.  I know this wasn't in Universal Studios Singapore.

Backdraft is a fire special effects show that is based on the film of the same name. If you do not know of the movie, then you are so much younger than me. hahaha!:) The show is full of realistic dramatic effects, and the audience get to experience how it is like to be inside a place that is catching fire. Drums explode in flames, burning ceiling crash to the floor.

The weather was perfect on the day of our visit, windy and overcast.  But it wasn't the perfect condition for taking beautiful photos.
a dinosaur showdown at the Jurassic Park area
J loved the Snoopy attraction, and we spent a long time here taking photos.

The girls had to go in Hello Kitty's Ribbon Boutique

When taking young children, it is good to plan ahead to make the visit more pleasant for everyone. Here are some tips for a more enjoyable experience at Universal Studios Japan:
1. We made sure to not go on a weekend to avoid all the Japanese schoolkids.  It wasn't that crowded when we got there, but the wait for the more popular rides still took 80 minutes

2. We bought our tickets outside the park to avoid the long queue of those purchasing tickets. Different queue for buying tickets and entering the park.  We bought ours at the airport, the same time we purchased out airport transfer and ICOCA cards.

There are several ticket options. The standard, 1-day pass is ¥6980 for adults 12-64, ¥6270 for seniors over 65, and ¥4880 for children 4-11. There is also a 2-day pass and a group pass. You can exit and enter the park, but you must get a special stamp at the exit gate.

3. Get a map at the entrance to help you navigate the park.

4. We tried our best to eat before ( or you can also choose to eat after ) the lunch crowd.  

We had our lunch at Snoopy's area because J is a big fan of Snoopy. The meals inside USJ are not really that expensive, food cost an average of 1000-1,500 yen. Our luncbreak also served as a good time to sit and relax for this tired mama. :)

5. I let the kids bring in some small snacks and their reusable water containers.  The snacks proved to be handy for when we were waiting in line for close to an hour.  

The snacks kept their hunger at bay, or at least to tide them over until lunch time... because food inside the park can be expensive with the way my kids eat... my kids have such BIG appetites that if I indulge their request to buy food in the park everytime they ask me to, it will do a slight damage to my wallet. hahaha!:) There are water fountains all over the park so you can refill water anytime.
When my li'l girl saw the Hello Kitty Cafe an hour after having lunch... "Mom, can we buy some snacks here?" See, what did I say?

The souvenir stores also have a lot of cute items which can make your kids go overboard with shopping.

Just outside the park is Universal City Walk, where you can find a lot of restaurants lined up.  You can choose to eat at one of the restos here on your way home.

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Click here to read ALL my Japan posts.