How to Plan a Family Trip to Universal Studios Japan

My family was part of a group of six families travelling together in Japan on a March Break trip. One of the stops we made was in Osaka, and we decided to check out Universal Studios Japan when we were in the area.

Having been to Universal Studios in the United States before, we had a pretty good idea of what to expect. However, there were many unique features to Universal Studios Japan that drew us in, and we wound up spending the better part of a day enjoying the theme park together.

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan is located in Osaka. It is easily accessible by public transport via the JR Yumesaki Line and getting off at Universal City Station. From here, it’s just a short walk to the park entrance.

We found it to be quite easy to navigate our way to the theme park from the Hyatt Regency Osaka. Getting around Japan as a family is a breeze, and riding around on the metro is part of the fun, too.

Universal Studios Japan features many of the same attractions as the other Universal Studios theme parks, including rides based on popular movies and TV shows like Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Spider-Man. It also has its own unique attractions and experiences, like the Flying Dinosaur ride, and showcases anime and pop culture icons from Japan. 

Although park staff can communicate in English, most, if not all recordings on attractions are in Japanese only. Signage and various shows will offer a mix of Japanese and English, so you may want to use an app like Google Lens to help with navigation.

Buying Tickets for Universal Studios Japan

Studio Pass tickets, your basic ticket to enter the park, start from ¥8,600 ($86 CAD) per guest aged 12 and up, and from ¥5,600 ($56 CAD) per child aged 4–11. Tickets only become available for sale 60 days in advance.

Because of the influx of visitors to Japan, tickets do sell out, so I’d suggest getting tickets as early as possible. This is especially true during popular travel times, such as March Break or the summer holidays. 

Tickets can be bought directly from the Universal Studios Japan website or on Klook. I personally recommend buying it directly from Universal Studios Japan, as this option allows you to choose the ticket you want, including any Express Pass options, which aren’t available on Klook.

Some people have reported difficulty using certain credit cards on the Universal Studios Japan payment page. In particular, US-issued American Express cards tend not to work, so you’re better off using a different card.

Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees, such as the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, to save a bit of money on your purchase.

Express Pass

The Express Pass is a paid ticket upgrade option that allows guests to skip the regular lines and enjoy shorter wait times for select attractions at Universal Studios Japan. With the pass, you can enjoy priority access to popular rides, such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, The Flying Dinosaur, and Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge.

Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge

There are different types of Express Passes available, each with varying levels of access to attractions. The more attractions included in the pass, the more expensive it is. Pricing varies depending on the visit date and demand, but it can actually cost more than double or even triple your Studio Pass ticket price.

However, with the large crowds visiting nowadays, it may be worth the investment, since you won’t wind up spending your whole day waiting in lines.

Some attractions on the Express Pass have timed entry, which means you have to access the ride at a specific time. However, with other attractions, you can head there at your leisure. 

Express Passes are limited, and they’ll sell out up to a few weeks before the visit date.

If you happen to put an Express Pass in your shopping cart and the payment page errors out, just wait a couple of hours and the tickets you had in your cart will be released back into inventory. In the interim, you might not see any availability when you try to make the purchase again, but don’t fret too much.

Arriving at Universal Studios Japan

The official park opening time varies depending on the date, but is typically between 8–9am. For our visit, we arrived at Universal Studios Japan around 9:30am.

When you first approach the gates, you’ll see several huge lines, but these are for people who have not yet bought their tickets. 

Universal Studios Japan – Entrance

If you have pre-bought your ticket, you get directed into another line to go through security. Once you pass security, be prepared to join a hoard of people.

Universal Studios Japan – Entrance

Super Nintendo World

Since its opening in 2021, Super Nintendo World has been the highlight of any visit to Universal Studios Japan for many visitors. Accessing the area requires a timed-entry ticket, which is free, but comes in addition to your regular park ticket.

This can only be selected on the app or at designated ticket kiosks after entering the park. They are limited in availability, so the earlier you get to the park, the better.

Using the app is the easiest option. Scan your Studio Pass QR code to register your admission tickets on the app. If you’re travelling in a group as we were, you can register everyone in your group with you in a single go.

In the app, go to the Timed Entry eTickets section, and select your preferred time. This will give you a QR code, which you’ll then need to show at the entrance to Super Nintendo World at your designated time.

They’re strict with entry times, so don’t even bother trying to go earlier.

If making it to the park early isn’t an option, then buying an Express Pass that includes entry into Super Nintendo World is your next best guaranteed way of entry.

Universal Studios Japan – Super Nintendo World

When you enter Super Nintendo World, considering buying a “Power-Up Band” for ¥3,200 ($32 CAD). This is a wristband that uses Bluetooth technology to interact with various elements of the theme park.

With the Power-Up Bands, you can collect virtual coins, compete in games, and unlock various surprises as you explore the attractions and activities throughout the park. My kids loved it, and we felt it was worth the extra cost. 

Universal Studios Japan – Super Nintendo World

Additionally, you can register the band in your Universal Studios Japan app and track your activity, progress, and achievements within the park.

Tips for Planning a Day at Universal Studios Japan with Your Family

If you have school-aged kids who want to ride a number of attractions, you’ll definitely want to buy an Express Pass. Otherwise, you’ll be in line for two or more hours for a single ride, which takes a lot of the fun out of the visit.

If you have older kids, then take advantage of the Single Rider lines available on many rides, which can also drastically cut down wait times.

If you’re travelling with younger children who may not meet height requirements for a ride, then take advantage of the Child Switch system.

Universal Wonderland is an area that features attractions and rides for younger kids, including babies and toddlers. It features Sesame Street, Snoopy, and Hello Kitty-themed attractions.

Here, wait times are a lot more reasonable, which is great for younger kids.

Unfortunately, Universal Studios Japan doesn’t allow bringing any outside food and drinks into the park, other than small snacks and water. Be sure to bring a refillable water bottle.

Line ups for food can be horrendous, so you’ll want to eat before you arrive. You can also time your meals within the park to be a little before or after prime lunch or dinner times. We found that buying pizza at Louie’s N.Y. Pizza Parlor was the quickest option. 

Although the rides were fun, another interesting part of visiting Universal Studios Japan was trying the unique foods that you can only find here. There are tons of fun food items that incorporate different Universal Studios characters, like Minion buns and Harry Potter pies. Do some research beforehand to see which ones may be worth lining up for.  

Lastly, If you’re into buying the souvenir popcorn buckets, buy them early, as the park only sells a limited quantity per day. Expect everything to be sold out by the late afternoon.


Despite being very busy, we had a good time at Universal Studios Japan, and found that it was a unique cultural experience for the whole family. Even though the theme park was crowded, it was orderly, clean, and well-run, which made for a better experience.

We enjoyed visiting the parts of the park, like Super Nintendo World, that are unique to Japan. It was also fun to try out the specialty foods that you won’t find anywhere else.

You’ll have to decide for yourself whether it’s worth braving the crowds, but if you plan to go, just be sure to buy your tickets early. Consider purchasing an Express Pass, and take advantage of Single Rider lines to maximize your time at Universal Studios Japan. 

1 Comment
  1. James

    Tried CIBC, AMEX, ROGERS, both not working for the payment. I don’t have HSBC, time go give up and use klook to purchase.

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