Universal Studio Japan Park Guide 2023 : 16 Tips to maximize your time for family - TheWackyDuo.com - Singapore Lifestyle Portal

Universal Studio Japan Park Guide 2023 : 16 Tips to maximize your time for family

It was our first trip to Universal Studios Osaka, and we had a blast!

During this visit, we sat on over 12 rides, watched a parade, took photos with familiar characters and even played carnival games. Universal Studios Japan is well known for its long queues with some rides that have over 90 minutes wait time.

So how do we do all these in just one day?

 Let us share the strategy to have a fun-filled day at Universal Studios Japan.

1 Get the Express Pass
Besides getting your 1 day pass online, you should seriously consider investing in an Express Pass. For example, we had the Express 4 pass from Klook with the following.

  • A: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ in 4K3D
  • B: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • C: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man - The Ride 4K3D Hollywood Dream – The Ride (from 19 Jan 2018, the applicable rides will be The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man - The Ride 4K3D OR Jurassic Park – The Ride)
  • D: JAWS® OR Terminator 2:3-D® OR Backdraft®

A and B are timed rides, so work your schedule around them. As a tip for D, we took Jaws instead of the other options as queues were much longer. However, we managed to get into Terminator and Backdraft in under 15 minutes!

How to get your tickets
From Universal Studios' website, you must get your tickets from an authorized seller to guarantee authenticity. We found Klook online, and they have the best deal in town.

Want more? Go for the Express 7 Pass if you are heading to Universal Studios over the weekend, as crowds can get massive during that period.

These are limited passes, so get them online before your visit to avoid disappointment.

2 Check the Theme Park Crowd Calendar

We found this theme park crowd calendar very useful in predicting the crowd. Knowing the crowd size will help determine if you require the Express Pass. As a guide, if the group is below 15000, you probably need only Express 3. It is between 15000-30000; Express 4 will be a good choice. Anything above 30000 expected visitors, we highly recommend Express 7. Otherwise, you would only spend the whole day waiting to sit on 2-3 rides tops.

3 Go on a Weekday

The best time to go would be from Tue-Thurs. The crowds will usually stream in from Friday to Monday. During this period, you will see the most tourists and locals visiting. We went on a Wednesday, and the crowd was comparatively lighter than the weekend. It was relaxing strolling around the park instead of jostling with everyone for rides or attractions.

4 Go early to take photos with characters

The characters usually come out when the theme park opens the door. So take your photo early instead of waiting for another chance and messing up your schedule afterwards. They are found right after the entrance, so grab them all at one spot!

5 Plan your Route before your visit
Click for Source: USJ

Best to plan your route before you reach. This will help you determine where you should head first and which rides to take. If you have the Express Pass, plan it according to the time entrance to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Minions ride. They follow the timing strictly, so there is no point in being too early. Too late, and you will miss your slot, too, so plan wisely. English guide may not be available, so save a copy of the map on your phone or print one out.

6 Plan your Rides before you go
Despicable Me Ride
Other than planning the route, Check out the ride's requirements before you get to the park.

There are height restrictions for specific rides. It would be a waste of time if you rushed there and realized your 5-year-old is too short to sit on it.
Jurassic Park the Ride
The more thrilling rides, such as Jurassic Park: The Flying Dinosaur and Hollywood Dream, require a minimum height of 132 cm. Unfortunately, that probably rules out most kids under 8.

The Flying Dinosaur
For the record, the most popular rides in the park are

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Average wait time 60-90 mins)
  • Despicable Me Minions Mayhem (Average wait time 60-90mins)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman (Average wait time 45-60mins)
  • The Flying Dinosaur (Average wait time 45-60mins)
  • Hollywood Dream -The Ride ( Average wait time 45-60mins)

90 minutes- Yikes!
The timings are for a relatively light day (Weekday) and maybe longer during weekends.

Hollywood Dream
Other than height, size does matter. Do measure up against the modelled seats for reference (For selected rides)

7  Check the timing of the rides
Studio Information

Look for the Studio Information on Park timings if you are at the park. Sometimes you might find a ride you want with short wait times.


Go for any rides less than 20 minutes long, especially if they are popular rides under the Express Pass. We used this strategy to watch Terminator and Backdraft. Both attractions' wait time was a mere 15 minutes each!

Even if you have preplanned a route, add some flexibility, and you can get on more rides at the end of the day.

Do NOT waste your Express queues on these rides. You can save it up for alternate rides ( if included) or use it to go for the ride again!

8 Consider Single Rider Queues

If you are there with kids and the kids cannot make the ride due to height, consider taking Single Riders Queue. The queues are much shorter to take. Do note that this service may not always be available. You can use this with the child switch to ensure the parents experience Universal Studios Japan. For the record, we did not use this as the queues were pretty manageable when we were there.

9 Head to the Wizardry World of Harry Potter FIRST if you do not have a timed ticket

The Wizardry World of Harry Potter has plenty to explore. You should head there first to ensure you have a timed ticket for entry. On less crowded days, you might not need the keys, but making it your first stop will be good.
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Besides the amazing Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you can also explore the Hogwarts school grounds.

Take a tour of the castle and see what it is like living in Hogwarts School.

Since you cannot take photos while waiting for the ride, you can use this opportunity. Wait time was only 5 minutes when we were there.

The other famous ride is the Flight of the Hippogriff. Be warned, the wait time can be about 60 minutes for this!

Other things to do include having a taste of the famous Butterbeer,
No Alcohol here. Kids can drink too.
My first beer... Butterbeer
You can also explore the quirky shops and take a snapshot with Hogwarts Express. There is plenty to do here other than just the ride. Allocate at least an hour or two here.

10 Eat light
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Since timing is essential, we suggest eating light. Grab food on the go instead of waiting for a place at the restaurants. There are a couple of food stalls found around the park to have your fill.

11 Plan for special parades and street shows
Street acts
Catch Street Acts and special shows instead of heading to the theatre.

As these shows are held outdoors, there is no need to queue for the show. However, you must be there earlier if you want a vantage view.

We think the street performances are worth watching. After all, Universal Studios Japan is much more than just rides.

As for the permanent shows, they may be similar to the ones in Singapore (e.g. Waterworld and Shrek 4D). Thus it may not be worth the while to watch them if you have seen them before.
Christmas Lights. 

12 Prepare to sacrifice if necessary

Shopping and shows took a back seat during our visit. We only have so much time, so we must prioritize our wants and needs.
No shopping for this trip.

If you need to grab merchandise, there is a Universal Studios Store in Dotonbori, which you can shop on another day. So save time browsing and queuing!

13 Bring cash for carnival games

You simply cannot resist the rows of carnival games found all around the park.

Games are expensive at ¥1000 per play. So bring a little extra cash if that is on your agenda.

We were pretty lucky and won a prize on our first attempt. However, games are not easy, so we wised up and stopped at one!

14 Do Kiddie Rides Last

If you have children, you must visit Wonderland, where rides are specially catered for them.
Unless your child is too young and cannot ride other rides, we suggest doing this later in the evening. Then, there will be less crowd, and you could get on the rides in 10 minutes or less.

Wonderland is quite a significant segment, so we think you should allocate 1 hour. 6-7pm would be perfect for this part in the park.

There are outdoor rides and a few indoor attractions. Don't miss them!

15 Head to Universal Citywalk for Dinner

During regular days, the park usually closes at 7pm. We suggest you have your dinner after the park closes. Universal Citywalk opposite Universal Studios does provide a good variety of food for you to partake in after the park closes. If possible, go at the opening time and stay until it closes.

16  Stay at the nearby Universal Hotel

If you think you and your family will be too tired to travel, may we suggest staying at one of the Universal official hotels nearby? We stayed at Hotel Universal Port and totally loved the place. Compared to hotels in Dotonbori, it was much more extensive and cheaper too. Highly recommended!

You can make your booking here.

Now that you are armed with these tips, we think you are more than ready to conquer Universal Studios Japan.

You can get your tickets here from Klook ( it's the cheapest we have seen online!)

Universal 1 Day Pass

Universal Express 3 Pass (Without Harry Potter Ride)
Universal Express 4 Pass (Great for families)
Universal Express 7 Pass  (For the Thrill seekers)

The post was written at our own expense. If you think you benefit from it and would like to support us, click the links above to purchase the tickets from Klook at no extra cost. In turn, we will receive a small remuneration to support this website. Thank you! #notsponsored


  1. Hi. Great blog. Can I ask you for rides recommended for a kid that does not like anything scary?

    1. There is a kids zone at Wonderland. Not scary at all :)


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