You can’t visit Osaka without spending a day at the world-famous Universal Studios Japan. I’ve been to Disneyland before but never visited one of the Universal Parks.
For me, spending the day at USJ was one of the highlights of my trip to Japan. Incredible roller-coasters, famous characters, and delicious food are just some of the things that you’ll find at this awesome theme park.
If you want to spend one day at Universal Studios Japan and you want to find out which are the best rides, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’m dividing the USJ rides into three categories: thrill rides, family rides, and kids rides.
-> Are you planning to explore Osaka? Here are some free things to do in the city.
But before finding out which rides suit your needs best, there are some things that you should know before visiting USJ. Read carefully the next chapter and you’ll have an awesome experience at one of the most popular theme parks in the world!
Quick jump list
- 1. Universal Studios Japan tickets
- 2. Universal Studios Japan tips & tricks
- 3. The best Thrill Rides at Universal Studios Japan
- 4. The best Family Rides at Universal Studios Japan
- 5. The best Kids Rides at Universal Studios Japan
- 6. Things to know before visiting Universal Studios Japan
- 7. How to get to Universal Studios Japan
- 8. Where to stay in Osaka
1. Universal Studios Japan tickets
I highly recommend buying tickets in advance in order to avoid huge queues on the day you want to visit. Unfortunately, you can’t buy tickets directly from the USJ website so I recommend using a trusted re-seller such as Klook (this is one of the re-sellers recommended on the official USJ website).
Once you get your ticket, make sure to add an Express Pass to your cart. I can’t stress enough how busy Universal Studios Japan is and you don’t want to wait for hours in queues instead of having fun on the rides. You’ll find more details about the express pass at the end of this guide.
-> Explore Osaka in one day! Here is the perfect itinerary!
2. Universal Studios Japan tips & tricks
- you’re not allowed to bring food and drinks with you. Bring some cash to buy some snacks inside the park.
- the best days to visit Universal Studios Japan are Wednesdays and Thursdays. The weekends are notoriously crowded.
- for those who want to spend more than a day at USJ, there is a 1.5 day pass. You are allowed to enjoy the rides starting at 3 pm on the first day until the end of the second day.
- make sure to arrive at least half an hour before the park opens.
- take advantage of the single rider lanes. It basically means that you’ll be placed randomly on the ride but you’ll save some time which is awesome.
- while exploring the world of Harry Potter, make sure to try the butterbeer.
- if you want to feel the magic of Hogwarts, make sure to visit the castle after the sunset. The view is simply magical.
3. The best Thrill Rides at Universal Studios Japan
Are you ready to feel the adrenaline rush? The following rides are for you! Universal Studios Japan is well known for its thrill rides and with so many great options, it’s easy to see why.
I’ve tried almost all the Universal Studios Japan attractions and below are the ultimate thrill rides!
The Flying Dinosaur
This over-the-top thrilling experience is exactly what makes USJ so famous. The Flying Dinosaur is the best roller-coaster at Universal Studios Japan and I recommend getting there early or getting an express pass if you don’t want to wait 3 hours to enjoy it.
The Flying Dinosaur will take you through the world of Jurassic Park in an incredible 3-minutes journey. Once you sit down, the seat will turn 90 degrees and you’ll end up face-down with nothing but air between you and the ground.
The ride is fast, confusing, and extremely fun if you’re adventurous. For me, The Flying Dinosaur will forever be my favorite roller-coaster in the world! Are you ready?
Another popular attraction at Universal Studios Japan is the Hollywood Dream roller-coaster. This is one of the traditional roller-coasters that you’ll find in any theme park.
Be prepared to cut through the wind on this sensational ride and enjoy a steep and thrilling drop. A nice touch is that you can select a song that will play during the ride. I chose Michael Jackson – Bad because I felt indestructible on this roller-coaster.
If you’re looking for more adrenaline, make sure to also try Hollywood Dream – The Ride – Backdrop. It’s basically the same ride but you’ll be seating backward. You never know what awaits you!
Jurassic Park – The Ride
Speaking about the best thrill rides at Universal Studios Japan, we can’t skip Jurassic Park – The Ride. You’ll start the adventure on a mechanical boat and even thought the beginning of the ride seems peaceful, nothing can prepare you for the end.
I’m not gonna tell you what happens because I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Here is a hint – while the dinosaurs are fascinating, be aware of your surroundings and where the boat takes you.
4. The best Family Rides at Universal Studios Japan
We’ve talked a lot about thrill rides and some of you might be visiting USJ with your family. In this section, I’m going to share with you which are the best rides for families at Universal Studios Japan.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
The journey itself until reaching the ride is fascinating. You will have to walk through Hogwarts and you’ll have the chance to see Dumbledore’s office, some of the classrooms and the Room of Requirement.
Once the ride starts, immerse yourself into the ultra-realistic world of Harry Potter without 3D glasses. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is one of the best rides at Universal Studios Osaka and the perfect choice for couples and families.
Sit comfortably in your chair while you’re playing Quiddich, walk through the Forbidden Forest or fly above the Hogwarts Castle. For a Harry Potter fan, this is the ultimate ride!
Good to know: children must be at least 122 cm tall.
Flight of the Hippogriff
Have you ever dreamed of meeting a Hippogriff? Now you have the chance. This family-friendly roller-coaster will take you on a journey around Hagrid’s home.
This ride is perfect for kids and families due to its low-intensity track. Sit back and enjoy a relaxing yet fascinating journey into Harry Potter’s world.
Good to know: Unaccompanied children must be at least 122 cm. Accompanied children must be at least 92 cm.
Head to Amity Village and hop on the Jaws ride. What starts as a quiet boat ride will suddenly turn into a nightmare when the huge man-eating shark appears.
The boatman will do anything in his power to get you out safe. Just do what he says! I loved the Jaws ride and its decor. It looked super-realistic and well-executed. This is definitely one of the top rides at Universal Studios Japan.
Good to know: children must be at least 122 cm tall.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man
Put on your glasses and enjoy an incredible 3D experience. What I loved about this ride is how real everything felt. The images and special effects are great!
This ride will make you feel like a part of the world-famous story. The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man is a great attraction for families and I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun!
Good to know: kids must be at least 122 cm tall if unaccompanied or 102 cm tall if accompanied.
5. The best Kids Rides at Universal Studios Japan
Do you have a small child but still want to go to Universal Studios Japan? Don’t worry, there are plenty of rides for small children around the park. Below are the best rides for kids at USJ. Enjoy!
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is the second most popular attraction in the park and there are huge lines. Make sure to get an express pass to save some hours.
Located in the Minion Park, this ride is truly spectacular. Get ready for a 3D experience (without glasses) which will last for about 25 minutes. The whole story presented is truly captivating and fascinating.
If you have motion sickness, you might want to avoid this ride.
Good to know: if unaccompanied, kids must be 122 cm tall. If accompanied, kids must be 102 cm tall.
There are three rides at Snoopy Studios USJ, perfect for kids – The Flying Snoopy, Snoopy’s Great Race, and Snoopy Sound Stage Adventure.
A ride on The Flying Snoopy will take you above the clouds. Snoopy’s Great Race is a kids-friendly roller-coaster which will take you on a ride in your favorite character’s world. If you want to meet Snoopy and his friends, make sure to stop at the Sound Stage Adventure. Kids will love it!
The TV series Sesame Street has fans all over the world. There are countless rides and attractions at the Sesame Street area at Universal Studios Japan that will delight the kids.
Some of them are Elmo’s Go-Go Skateboard, Sesame’s Big Drive or the Cookie Monster Slide. I am sure that kids will have tons of fun here! This is one of the kids-friendly rides at Universal Studios Japan.
Explore the Hello Kitty store and buy some cute souvenirs for your kids and loved ones back home. Hello Kitty is the most famous cat in the world and everybody loves her!
You can even attend the Hello Kitty cupcake party in a unique ride, perfect for small children and why not, their parents.
6. Things to know before visiting Universal Studios Japan
USJ is a huge amusement park and it welcomes more than 8 million visitors per year. To put that into perspective, it means that more than 20,000 people visit this park daily.
This is why, apart from the admission ticket I recommend getting an express pass which will allow you to skip the line. The park is very busy and some queues might take up to three and a half hours during peak hours. If you plan to make the most out of your time and enjoy as many rides as possible, an express pass is a must.
Good to know: Express Passes get sold out weeks in advance during peak season. Make sure to buy yours well in advance.
There are three types of express passes, depending on the rides they cover:
- USJ Express Pass 7
USJ Express Pass 7 is the best pass because it includes many popular rides which usually have endless queues. You’ll save up a lot of time by choosing this pass. It’s perfect for families or couples who want a mix of fun and thrill rides.
There are 4 types of Express Pass 7. All of them include 6 fixed rides plus one more ride of your choice. The 6 fixed rides are Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Flight of the Hippogriff, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man or Jaws, Hollywood Dream or Backdraft, and Jurassic Park – The Ride or Terminator.
Therefore, you may choose for an additional ride as follows:
- Space Fantasy The Ride
- SING on Tour
- The Flying Dinosaur
If you ask me, I would totally go for the Flying Dinosaur. It is by far the best roller-coaster I’ve ever tried and it’s the perfect choice for those looking for a drop of adventure mixed with adrenaline.
- USJ Express Pass 4
If you’re on a budget and don’t want to overspend, I recommend getting the USJ Express Pass 4. You’ll have 3 fixed rides included and these are Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man or Jurassic Park – The Ride, and Terminator or Backdraft.
Additionally, you can choose one of the following attractions:
- SING on Tour
- The Flying Dinosaur
- Minion Ride
- Space Fantasy – The Ride
USJ Express Pass 4 is a great choice if you want to enjoy the best rides in the park without overspending. If you’re looking for a thrilling ride, I recommend choosing the Flying Dinosaur. If you’re into Minions, choose the Minion Ride.
- USJ Express Pass 3
USJ Express Pass 3 includes skip-the-line tickets to only 3 rides inside the park and it’s the cheapest alternative. If you have a little money to spare, I definitely recommend going for the Express Pass 4 or 7.
Here are the rides included in the Express Pass 3:
- Space Fantasy – The Ride
- The Flying Dinosaur
- Jurassic Park – The Ride or Jaws or Backdraft
Good to know: One thing you have to keep in mind is that some of the passes change during the year so it’s best to check them out here before deciding which one to buy.
7. How to get to Universal Studios Japan
The fastest way to get from Osaka to Universal Studios Japan is to take the JR Yumesaki Line (also known as JR Sakurajima Line) to Universal City Station. From there, you’ll have to walk for about 30 minutes to the park entrance.
Alternatively, you can take the bus from Osaka to USJ. You can find more details here.
8. Where to stay in Osaka
Osaka is a big city and finding the perfect accommodation might prove challenging. I’ve searched for the best hotels for every budget and below are my recommendations:
- Budget – Hokko Marina – good location, very clean, super-friendly staff
- Mid Budget – Chuan House – excellent location, beautiful studio apartment, very clean & modern, friendly staff
- Luxury – St Regis Osaka – excellent location, luxurious and comfortable rooms with a view over the city, excellent service & staff
A day trip to Universal Studios Japan will make you feel like a child again. Enjoy all the rides and make sure to book your entry ticket in advance. To save time, don’t forget about the express pass or else be prepared for long queues.
Out of all these awesome Universal Studios Japan rides, which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments section below! Also, if you’re planning to visit Tokyo, don’t forget about Tokyo DisneySea!
May the travel bug bite you!
More about Osaka:
- Osaka on a budget – free things to do in the city – click here
- One day in Osaka – the PERFECT itinerary – click here
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