Universal Studio Japan Park Guide : 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 in 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
Universal Studios Japan
Other than getting your 1 day pass online, you should also seriously consider investing in an Express Pass. We had the Express 4 pass from Klook that comes 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 it. As a tip for D, we took Jaws instead of the other options as queues were much longer. We managed to get into Terminator and Backdraft in under 15 minutes!

How to get your tickets
From Universal Studios website, you have to get your tickets from an authorised 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 that is very useful in predicting the crowd. Knowing the crowd size would help you determine if you require the Express Pass. As a guide, if the crowd 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

Best time to go would be from Tue-Thurs. The crowds will stream in usually from Friday to Monday. During this period, you will see the most number of 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

Charlie Brown
The characters usually come out when the theme park opens the door. Go and take your photo early instead of waiting for another chance and mess up your schedule thereafter. They are found just right after the entrance during opening so grab them all at one spot!
Shrek and Fiona

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 to 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 no point 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 requirements of the ride before you get to the park.

Spiderman Ride
There are height restrictions for certain rides. It would be a waste of time if you rush 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. 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)
Test this seat before riding

7  Check the timing of the rides
Studio Information

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


Go for any rides that are less than 20 minutes long especially if they are popular rides that are 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.
Don't waste your Express Pass

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 together with child switch to ensure the parents get to 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 tickets but it will be good to make it your first stop.
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Other than the amazing Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you can also explore the Hogwarts school grounds.

Take a tour inside the castle and see how it is like living in Hogwarts School

Since you are unable to take photos while waiting for the ride, you can use this opportunity to do so. Wait time was only 5 minutes when we were there.

The other popular ride is Flight of the Hippogriff. Be warned 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 are plenty to do here other than just the ride. Allocate at least an hour or two here.
All aboard the Hogwarts Express!

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 need to 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 one in Singapore ( eg Waterworld and Shrek 4D), thus it may not be worth the while to watch them if you had seen it 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 need to prioritize our wants and needs.
No shopping for this trip.

In case if you need to grab merchandise, there is a Universal Studios Store in Dotonbori which you can shop on another day. 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 in our first attempt. Games are not exactly easy, so we wised up and stop 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. There will be less crowd and you could get in the rides in 10 minutes or less.

Wonderland is quite a big segment, so we think you should allocate 1 hour there. The time between 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 normal 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 all the way till it closes.

16  Stay at the nearby Universal Hotel

If you think that you and your family will be too tired to travel, may we suggest a stay at one of the Universal official hotels nearby? We stayed at Hotel Universal Port and totally love the place. Compared to hotels in Dotonbori, it was much larger 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 expenses. If you think you benefit from it and would like to support us, do click on the links above to purchase the tickets from Klook at no extra cost to you. 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 :)