Universal Studios Japan’s Helpful Tips & Recommendations

USJ tips&recommendations

Did you know Universal Studios Japan was listed as the world’s third-most-visited theme park in 2022? This park welcomes guests from across the globe, incorporating shows and attractions based on popular films and Japanese anime and manga.

If you’re visiting Japan and spending a day in the popular park, you should know a few things about USJ beforehand. Although there are Universal Studios parks all over the world, the one in Japan may differ from the amusement parks you’re used to. Like for one, an Area Timed Entry Ticket may be required when entering popular areas like the Super Nintendo World.

To get an idea of how to get around USJ smoothly, check out this guide that explains tips on how to save time and money. This article also includes our recommended restaurants, rides, and hotels based on experience and reviews!

Let’s get to it!

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Written by Sakura Mobile Blog Team

Hello readers! Sakura Mobile is a SIM WiFi service provider for international residents and tourists in Japan.

Our global editorial team living in Japan will introduce the charms of the country based on what we have actually experienced and felt.

Table of Contents

About Universal Studios Japan
How to Get to USJ
8 Things You Should Know & Tips When Visiting USJ
Recommended Rides
Recommended Events
Recommended Restaurants
Recommended on-the-go Foods
Recommended Hotels Near USJ
In Need of a SIM Card or Pocket Wi-Fi?

About Universal Studios Japan

USJ scenery
Photo courtesy of runextreme (pixabay)

Universal Studios Japan, or USJ for short, is one of the most visited amusement parks in Western Japan. There are 5 Universal Studio Parks in the world, and the one in Japan is distinctive in including anime, manga, and game concepts in its rides. You can also purchase original goods and enjoy shows/parades you can encounter only in USJ.

USJ is expanding as popularity grows, such as opening a Donkey Kong Country Area and adding new attractions in 2024, such as the Demon Slayer XR Ride and the Detective Conan Ride.

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How to Get to USJ

USJ globe
Photo courtesy of Pharaoh_EZYPT(pixabay)

From Kansai International Airport

The Kansai International Airport is a major airport in Western Japan. One merit of accessing USJ from this airport is the usage of LCC (low-cost carrier) airlines like Peach and Jetstar. Unlike Itami Airport, where you can only book flights from ANA or JAL, you can save money by traveling on relatively cheaper flights. You can reach Universal Studios in about an hour by JR line (you’ll need to transfer at Nishi-Kujou Station) or the shuttle bus.

From Itami Airport

Itami Airport is another airport in Osaka. It is closer to the central parts of Osaka than Kansai International Airport, and you can access USJ in 45 minutes by bus or JR line (you’ll need to transfer at multiple stations).

If you are traveling from Tokyo…

Access from Tokyo
photo courtesy of jhengyaolin (canva)

There are several ways to get to USJ from Tokyo. If your priority is time efficiency, we recommend using the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train). Get off at Shin-Osaka Station and take the JR line to Universal City Station. If you prioritize cost-efficiency, we recommend using an LCC airline via Kansai International Airport or the overnight bus. The bus can be as cheap as 3000 yen, but you’ll need strength to get through the long 8-hour ride!

Click here to get more info on transportation access to USJ!

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8 Things You Should Know & Tips When Visiting USJ

Hogwarts USJ
Photo courtesy of Alexis Banaag (pixbay)

1. Some areas/attractions need a timed entry ticket

In order to avoid overcrowding, some areas/attractions require a timed entry ticket. For example, you can’t enter the Super Nintendo World Area without a timed ticket on crowded hours/days(as of until 2023). By getting a timed-entry ticket, you’ll be granted entry into the area for around one hour (Note that the waiting time for the rides inside may be longer than an hour.) If you want to try the Mario Kart Koopa’s Challenge, be sure to check the necessity of timed-entry tickets upon your arrival!

2. The Official Universal Studios App comes in handy!

We recommend downloading the app beforehand as it comes in handy for numerous reasons. One of the merits is being able to get timed entry e-tickets for popular areas (like Super Nintendo World or The Wizarding of Harry Potter) without having to stop by the ticket kiosk. The app also has a map that lets you check the wait times, location, and description of the rides. You can also save the hassle of asking the staff the location of the nearest smoking areas, restaurants, toilets, etc.

3. Get a SIM card or a portable Wi-Fi

Photo courtesy of Nathana Rebouças (unsplash)

We recommend bringing a SIM card or portable WiFi as they only offer free WiFi at the entrance gate. Since the rides occasionally have long waiting hours, having internet data for your phone helps you kill time! You can also get around the park efficiently by getting information on waiting times on the app. Not to mention, you can post your fun time in USJ in real time on apps like Instagram, BeReal, and Snapchat!

If you want to retrieve a SIM card or portable WiFi after landing at the Kansai International Airport, we recommend Sakura Mobile as they have a pickup counter at the airport!

4. Purchase the USJ Express Pass to avoid long lines

USJ provides an Express Pass, which lets you wait in the Express Line and has less waiting time than the regular lane. You can choose from the different types of Express Pass tickets, and some come with granted access to popular areas like the Super Nintendo World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you want to cover all the attractions in USJ, make sure to check the Express Pass when purchasing the entry tickets!

Click here to learn more about how the Express Pass works!

5. Use the Single Rider system to reduce waiting time

Waiting in line
Photo courtesy of Levi Jones (unsplash)

Some of the more popular rides require you to wait in line for up to 3 hours, which can be draining if you want to go on several rides. If you want to reduce your waiting time as much as possible, we recommend heading to the Single Rider Lane. This lane is for those willing to go on the rides alone, and they tend to move faster than the normal lane.

6. You may be able to enter the park earlier than the mentioned time

The open time mentioned on the official website is usually around 8 to 9 A.M., but the park sometimes lets guests enter early! I’ve been to USJ several times, and there were times I could enter the park one hour earlier than the planned time. So, it may be worth arriving before the scheduled opening time!

7. Reserve your restaurants beforehand!

Photo courtesy of bridgesward (pixabay)

USJ offers a service that lets you be escorted into the restaurant quickly if you have a prior reservation. Some restaurants require you to wait in line for up to 90 min, so we recommend reserving one beforehand!

Click here to learn about the restaurant priority system!

8. Use the 1.5-day Pass or Twilight Pass

Other than the whole day passes, there is a 1.5-day pass, which allows you to enter the park from 3 P.M. on the first day. The price is cheaper than the 2-day pass, so we recommend purchasing this if you want to spend the morning on the first day touring around Osaka before visiting USJ. There is also a Twilight pass if you only want to visit USJ from 3 P.M. for one day. Choose the pass that best suits your travel plan!

Click here to look at the different entry tickets that are available!

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Recommended Rides

You can’t leave a theme park without going on the great rides they offer. USJ offers numerous attractions featuring your favorite films or characters, some exclusive to this park! Try to see if you recognize any of them! Check out our top 3 recommended rides at USJ!

1. Flying Dinosaur

Flying Dinosaur
Photo courtesy of mrganso (pixabay)

One of the rides exclusive to USJ is the exhilarating rollercoaster, the Flying Dinosaur. This ride tilts your body 90 degrees with your face down and your arms dangling in the air. Try this ride if you want to experience soaring in the sky like the Pteranodon!

Click here to get to know the one-and-only ride!

2. Hollywood Dream- The Ride: Backdrop

Hollywood Dream the Ride
Photo courtesy of nhami8 (shutterstock)

If you are into exciting rides that make your adrenaline rush, this rollercoaster is for you! The Hollywood Dream Ride has two versions, but this one goes backward, which adds the extra thrill. You can also pick a song that plays during the ride to immerse yourself in the up-tempo music!

Click here to learn about this exciting ride!

3. Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge

Mario Kart USJ
Photo courtesy of Roméo A. (Unsplash)

This ride lets you experience the exciting world of Mario Kart, a Japanese company-made game loved around the world. The game puts you in a group of four to race against the Koopa team using AR goggles. You can’t help but be psyched as the music and the characters come to life!

Click here to see how this new ride works!

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Recommended Events

Although USJ itself offers an exciting experience, it is even more memorable if you visit on the days of the events below!

1. New Years Countdown (New Year’s Eve)

Photo courtesy of nck_gsl (pixabay)

Have you ever thought of spending your New Year’s in the energized atmosphere of USJ? From December 31st to January 1st, USJ exceptionally opens their park all night!! Join the party as they celebrate the end of the year with a special show on Gramercy Park. They welcome the new year at midnight with a dynamic countdown show with 4,000 fireworks! You can also go on the attraction rides in the middle of the night, which may be a one-in-a-lifetime experience.

2. Halloween Horror Nights (From September to November)

Photo courtesy of Judeus Samson

The mixture of horror and thrill of rollercoasters is a must for a spine-chilling Halloween! Crew members of Universal Studios take pride in their Halloween event as they go full-scale on their scary and realistic costumes. They also introduce special attractions featuring Biohazard and Chucky and a dance festival hosted by zombies! You can also bring your own costumes to join in the fun!

3. NO LIMIT! Summer (From July to August)

summer water event image
Photo courtesy of MI PHAM (pixabay)

Want to beat the heat with an exciting water gun battle? Osaka can be extremely hot in the summer, but USJ has you covered! At Gramercy Park, they host an event where characters and guests splash water on each other to cool down! Get in the front line with your own water gun if you want to get drenching wet! They also perform a live entertainment show, One Piece Premium Summer, that features water and bubbles.

4. NO LIMIT! Christmas (From the middle of November to the beginning of January)

Christmas USJ
Photo courtesy of manseok_Kim (pixabay)

The Christmas season is perfect for those who want to see the illuminating lights and the magnificent Christmas tree in USJ. They also host a live show called Frosty’s Electric Snow Party, where DJ Frosty excites the crowd with up-tempo Christmas music. You can also enjoy food and sweets decorated for the jolly season. The souvenir stores are also great to stop by, as they sell headbands and snacks limited to the Christmas season.

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Recommended Restaurants

Waiting in long lines can make you starved. Here are our 3 restaurant recommendations, which are great in taste and atmosphere!

1. The Three Broomsticks

Three Broomsticks Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Elanie Crimson(Unsplash)

If you are a fan of Harry Potter or big feasts, this restaurant is for you! The restaurant is a recreation of the Hogwart students’ hangout place, the Three Broomsticks. You can enjoy British dishes such as fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and, not to mention, Butterbeer!

Click here to see the magical food they offer!

2. Kinopio’s Café

Kinopio USJ
Photo courtesy of Roméo A.(Unsplash)

Want to try dishes crafted by Chef Toad? The well-visited Kinopio’s Café serves cute-designed dishes that are Super Mario themed. You can enjoy Western-styled food such as hamburgers and pasta. They also offer a wide variety of dishes for kids.

Click here to look at the photogenic sweets and drinks!

3. Discovery Restaurant

Jurassic Park
Photo courtesy of WANG Tianfang (unsplash)

This Jurassic World-themed restaurant served dishes such as roast beef bow, loco moco style hamburg steak rice bowl, etc. The gigantic T-Rex replica hanging in the ceiling is a sight to see! This is a must-see place for fans of the Jurassic Park movies!

Click here to check out the tasty meals they offer!

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Recommended on-the-go Foods

Here are easy bites you can enjoy while waiting in line or walking in the park!

1. Smoked Chicken (Jurassic Park Area)

Smoked chicken
Photo courtesy of onmysparetime (shutterstock)

One of the popular foods in USJ is their smoked chicken, which you can get for 1000 JPY. The juicy chicken is rather big, perfect for satisfying your appetite when waiting in line!

2. Super Mario Pancake Sandwich (Mario Café & Store in the Hollywood Area)

Photo courtesy of Mika Baumeister (unsplash)

This Mario-themed café Is perfect for grabbing something sweet that is easy but photogenic! We recommend the pancake sandwich, which you can choose from the Mario version (strawberry shortcake) or the Luigi (grape no-bake cheesecake) version. A great café to visit for any Mario enthusiast!

3. Butterbeer (Wizarding World of Harry Potter Area)

Photo courtesy of Jainam Sheth(unsplash)

Are you a Harry Potter fan? Of course, you know then, Butterbeer is a well-known non-alcoholic butterscotch beverage shown in the Harry Potter films. Other than regular Butterbeer, they sell hot and frozen Butterbeer depending on the season. Experience one of Harry Potter’s most iconic beverages! Don’t forget to take a picture with your Butterbeer foamy mustache!

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Recommended Hotels Near USJ

USJ is close to many partner hotels you can access by foot, with attractive services like early park entry. If you’re looking for a place to stay near USJ with some perks, check out our recommended hotels below!

1. The Park Front Hotel

hotel room
Photo courtesy of The Park Front Hotel

As the hotel name says, this hotel is located right next to the entrance gate of USJ. The hotel is also located next to the Universal Citywalk Osaka, an area filled with shops and restaurants that serve Osaka food. Half of the rooms offer a view of the park, so this hotel is recommended if you want to enjoy the USJ atmosphere even from your hotel room!

Click here to see the other great services they provide!

2. Hotel Universal Port

hotel room
Photo courtesy of Hotel Universal Port

This hotel can be accessed from USJ within 5 minutes on foot. One of the features of this hotel is the collaboration of the popular character, the Minions. The Minion-themed rooms and photo spots are too cute to miss out on! There is also a hotel named Hotel Universal Port Vita, located next to this one. I also recommend this hotel, as they offer a delicious lunch buffet!

Click here to look at their cute rooms and decorations!

3. The Singulari Hotel & Skyspa

Photo courtesy of The Singulari Hotel & Skyspa

Do you want to enjoy the relaxing onsen to relieve fatigue after a long day? This hotel provides an indoor onsen with a beautiful view of Osaka City. Some of the room plans come with a private onsen, so take a at this hotel look if you’re interested!

Click here to learn about the other charming points of this hotel!

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In Need of a SIM Card or Pocket Wi-Fi?

As we mentioned before, having internet data can be helpful when planning your day, contacting your friends, and idling away time. If you need a SIM card or a pocket WiFi, we recommend Sakura Mobile! We offer excellent services such as delivery to your hotels, unlimited data options, full English support, and more! In addition, you can directly pick up your SIM card or pocket WiFi upon arriving at our counter at Kansai International Airport.

Here are some features of Sakura Mobile:

・Unlimited data options for SIM cards

・Portable Wi-Fi you can easily return

・Full English support

・Stable internet network

By reserving online before departing, you can

  • Lower your rental fees
  • Avoid stock shortages at the airport

To learn more about data and WiFi options for your trip, check out our products below.

↑ Go back to the table of contents


In this article, we covered tips and recommendations that can be useful for your adventure in USJ. The park has several reservation and ticket services to make your day as efficient as possible, so keeping yourself updated on the latest helpful info is best!

USJ offers some of the best entertainment rides and shows in the world, which kids and adults of all ages can enjoy. I’ve always had a great time every time I visited USJ, as they keep adding new attractions and collaborations.

As a USJ fan, I highly recommend spending your day in USJ to experience the hype of this popular theme park for yourself!


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