How to Buy Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Online Tickets and Express Passes 2017

How to Buy Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Tickets and Express Pass

We were poorly organised when we visited Universal Studios Japan USJ in Osaka.  While I had done a lot of research on most of our planned destinations for some reason I did not spend much time on USJ – and we paid the price.  We did not buy our tickets in advance, we did not know that Express Passes existed until the day prior to our visit – by which time they had already sold out!  As a result while we did manage to have a good day out I definitely believe that we would have had a much better day at USJ if we had been better prepared.

To ensure that you have a much better day at Universal Studios Japan I have put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know, including where and how to buy the essential tickets prior to your visit you need to have a great experience.

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Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Tickets, Express Pass, VIP Pass, Royal Pass and Nearby Hotel Quick Links

If you just want to get on and buy your Universal Studios Japan USJ tickets, Express Pass, VIP Pass or Royal Pass and hotel without reading the rest of the article here are the quick links.

  • Before you purchase any of the other tickets and passes for USJ I recommend you click on the following link to check out pricing and availability for the USJ Royal Pass which can be purchased online through the Voyagin online travel agency website, which is a reputable Japanese travel agency and an authorised seller of USJ tickets.  The Royal Pass includes timed entry  to Harry Potter World and skip the line entry to 14 major attractions, including unlimited use of 8 rides and VIP access to shows.  Only 200 Royal Passes are available each day so get in early to get yours.
  • You can also easily purchase your Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka tickets online from the Klook website. Klook are a major reputable ticket and tour seller for many Asian countries and the Oceania region and are an authorised reseller of USJ tickets (unlike many other purported online ticket sellers).  Click on this link to check out the latest USJ entry ticket prices and upcoming special events.  Do not purchase tickets from organisations not listed on the above page of authorised resellers as they are unlikely to be accepted at the gate.
  • You can easily purchase your Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Express Pass also from the Klook website which must be purchased in addition to the standard USJ entry ticket. Check out the Express Pass price for your planned day to visit USJ.  Note that only a limited number of Express Passes are available for each day and the price varies each day, and therefore you should purchase your Express Passes as early as possible to ensure that you do not miss out.  Express Pass options include the USJ Express 7 and USJ Express 4 depending on which rides you want to guarantee entry (see the table further down in the article), and a range of Express Pass options are available to enable you to tailor the specific rides.  Most Express Pass options also provide timed entry to the USJ Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  • To help you decide whether you need to purchase an Express Pass I have further information below about the USJ crowd calendar.
  • You may also hear people call an Express Pass a Fast Pass – for your information a Fast Pass is what they are called in Disneyland and Disneysea Tokyo. The pass you need to buy for USJ is called an Express Pass.
  • You can also easily purchase a Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka VIP Wristband + HARUKAS 300 Observatory Pass from the Klook website which must be purchased in addition to the standard USJ entry ticket. The VIP Pass includes VIP entry, advice the day before on the exact opening time for USJ (it changes every day!) and access to the Harukas 300 Observatory from the Klook website.  Note that the VIP Wristband can only be collected from the Harukas 300 Observatory.
  • I have noticed that while you are on the Klook website many of you are also purchasing tickets for other attractions in Japan – favourite options from my readers include the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo and Tokyo Disney Resort tickets.

If you are interested in staying in a hotel close to Universal Studios Japan USJ there are a good range of options just outside the gate.  Click on this link from Booking.com to check USJ hotel options, prices and availability.

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Contents

Guide to Universal Studios Japan USJ Theme Park in Osaka Japan

Where is Universal Studios Japan USJ?

A key point is that Universal Studios Japan USJ is NOT in Tokyo!  USJ is located in the outskirts of the city of Osaka, which is located at a distance of 315 miles or 500km west of Tokyo.

What is the Address for Universal Studios Japan USJ?

The address for Universal Studios Japan USJ is 2 Chome-1-3-3 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 554-0031, Japan

What Are the Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Rides?

The Universal Studios Japan USJ theme park has a combination of rides and shows, as well as special events throughout the year.

The major rides in Universal Studios Japan USJ are as follows:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • The Flying Dinosaur
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – The Ride
  • JAWS
  • Hollywood Dream – The Ride
  • Hollywood Dream – Backdrop
  • Backdraft
  • Jurassic Park – The Ride
  • Terminator 2:3-D
  • Evangelion XR Ride

The Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Wizarding World of Harry Potter

A major attraction at the Universal Studios Japan USJ theme park is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  The Harry Potter section, complete with an amazing Hogwarts Castle, is a separate area within USJ.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is themed throughout the area and has two major rides, four regular shows and many themed eateries and stores.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter requires a separate Timed Entry Ticket, as the number of visitors is restricted.  If you get there just after USJ opens you should be able to walk straight in.  However if you are arriving later you can get your Timed Entry Ticket either as part of your Express Pass, or alternatively you can walk to the entrance near JAWS where there are ticket machines which will issue you with a Timed Entry Ticket.  You can then explore the rest of the park and return for your allocated timeslot.

Hogsmeade Village in Wizarding World of Harry Potter USJ

Hogsmeade Village in Wizarding World of Harry Potter USJ

What are the Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Opening Hours?

The Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka opening hours change every day, so it is important to check their schedule.  The schedule typically advises an 8.30am opening time, and closing times which can vary from 7.30pm to 9pm.  USJ typically has longer opening hours on weekends and public holidays.  The rides usually close at 6.30pm.

Note that the exact opening time for each day can be different from that listed on the calendar.  When we visited USJ the website said that it was going to open at 8.30am, we arrived early at 7.30 am and the gates were already open and rides operating.

If you want to know the exact opening time of USJ for your visit the only option is to purchase a VIP Pass in conjunction with your park entry ticket and Express Pass.  If you purchase the VIP pass you will receive an email the afternoon before your visit with a link to the secret web page which advises the specific opening time for the following day.  Note that the VIP pass is packaged with a ticket to the Harukas 300 Observatory and the VIP Wristband can only be collected from the Harukas 300 Observatory.

What is the Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Schedule?

Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka has both a daily and a seasonal schedule.  On a daily basis there is a major parade which is usually held at approximately 2.30pm.  In the evenings there are a variety of shows and experiences being conducted – a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is recommended in the evening.  Note that fireworks are only held in the evening on special occasions, not every day.

When we visited USJ it was Halloween Horror month and the zombies came out at dusk – the acting and costumes were amazing and everyone was having a great time!  If you check out this link, and then click on ‘Stage Shows and Street Shows’ you will see the upcoming seasonal events to help you plan your visit to USJ.

In June and July the park changes theme and during this period most of the shows and parades are not on.  Therefore if you are planning to visit during this period check the schedule carefully and also confirm which rides are operating.

Hagrid's Hut in Wizarding World of Harry Potter USJ

Hagrid’s Hut in Wizarding World of Harry Potter USJ

Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Crowd Calendar

It is important to understand how big a crowd is likely to be at Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka as it will make a big difference to whether you will need to purchase an Express Pass.  If you can plan your itinerary to visit USJ on a lower crowd day you will save a lot of money!  An overall principle to plan your visit to USJ is that Wednesdays and Thursdays have the smallest crowds.

The crowd calendar at this link provides an indication of expected crowd levels for each day.  The site is in Japanese, however you can use Google Translate as shown in the image below (click the icon in the red circle) to make the information meaningful in English.

Universal Studios Japan USJ Crowd Calendar

Universal Studios Japan USJ Crowd Calendar

It is important to understand the size of the crowd when planning your visit to USJ.  We visited during a peak time and were too late to get an Express Pass.  We arrived very early and went straight to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride – we were able to get on after a wait of around 20 minutes (by the way it was a great ride!).  We then waited around one hour to go on the Flight of the Hippogriff ride, and after we exited the ride we could see that the queue for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride now had a 4-5 hour wait…

If you are going to USJ on a mid to high crowd day it will be very worthwhile to purchase an Express Pass, otherwise you will be in long queues all day or miss out on rides. (yes, we need to go back to have a do-over of our USJ visit!)

How to Buy Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Tickets and Express Pass (or Fast Pass)

Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Tickets and Express Pass (or Fast Pass) can be purchased from a range of options.  Many travel agents offer USJ tickets, and when you are in Japan you can purchase USJ tickets and Express Passes from Lawson convenience stores which are prolific around Japan.  You can also purchase your USJ tickets and Express Passes from your hotel on the day of entry – but note it is highly likely you may not be able to purchase an Express Pass from your hotel if they are already sold out.

In fact when we went to USJ we used the Lawson convenience store option, however, it was not a great option as we had difficulty using the ticket machine.  Looking back I would have much preferred to purchase our tickets online before we departed for Japan, in particular to ensure that we could purchase our Express Passes before they ran out.

What is the Ticket Price for Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka?

Note that entry tickets are only valid for one entry – you cannot leave and then re-enter.

How to Buy Discount and Cheap Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Tickets

Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka has really locked down the ticket sales options, and there are no viable options to purchase discount or cheap tickets.  If you do find a discounted price advertised then treat it with care as you may be refused entry at the gate.

How to Buy Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Express Pass or Fast Pass

You can easily purchase your Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Express Pass also from the Klook website which must be purchased in addition to the standard USJ entry ticket.

Note that only a limited number of Express Passes are available for each day, and therefore you should purchase your Express Passes as early as possible to ensure that you do not miss out.  The price of Express Passes varies depending on the day you plan to visit, so again check out the pricing for your specific dates and see if you can arrange your itinerary to visit USJ on the cheapest (and least busy) days.

If you are intending to purchase Express Passes for children I also suggest that you check the ride height limitations before spending the money on an Express Pass.  If your child does not meet the minimum ride height they will not be permitted to ride.

Express Pass options include the USJ Express 7 and USJ Express 4 depending on which rides you want to guarantee entry, and a range of Express Pass options are available to enable you to tailor the specific rides.  Some Express Pass options also provide timed entry to the USJ Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  There used to be a USJ Express Pass 5 but it is no longer available.

You may also hear people call an Express Pass a Fast Pass – for your information a Fast Pass is what they are called in Disneyland and Disneysea Tokyo.  The pass you need to buy for USJ is called an Express Pass.

I have put together the below table to make it easier for you to compare the Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Express Pass options:

Universal Studios USJ Osaka Express Pass Options Table

Universal Studios USJ Osaka Express Pass Options Table

How to Buy Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka VIP Pass

You can also easily purchase a Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka VIP Wristband + HARUKAS 300 Observatory Pass from the Klook website which must be purchased in addition to the standard USJ entry ticket.  The VIP Pass includes VIP entry, advice the day before on the exact opening time for USJ (it changes every day!) and access to the Harukas 300 Observatory from the Klook website.  Note that the VIP Wristband can only be collected from the Harukas 300 Observatory.

Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Royal Pass

Before you purchase any of the other tickets and passes for USJ I recommend you click on the following link to check out pricing and availability for the USJ Royal Pass which can be purchased online through the Voyagin online travel agency website, which is a reputable Japanese travel agency and an authorised seller of USJ tickets.  The Royal Pass includes timed entry  to Harry Potter World and skip the line entry to 14 major attractions, including unlimited use of 8 rides and VIP access to shows.  Only 200 Royal Passes are available each day so get in early to get yours.

When you consider the pricing of the Royal Pass you should compare it against the purchase of both a USJ entry ticket plus the cost of an Express Pass.

Ensure that you carefully check the terms and conditions of purchase of your USJ Royal Pass.  Of note is that if you wish to get your tickets delivered to your hotel you must order at least 12 business days prior to the required delivery date.  Otherwise you can do an express pickup from the Voyagin office in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Other Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Passes – including Annual Pass and Birthday Pass

There are an additional range of passes which can be purchased through the USJ official website, including the Annual Pass and Birthday Pass – note that this section of the website is in Japanese so you will need to use Google translate to read these pages in English or other languages.  Most of these other pass options require you to be a resident of Japan, and the passes cannot be delivered overseas or to a hotel.

For overseas visitors to Japan the best option to purchase online tickets to USJ is via the Klook website or through the Voyagin website.

How to Get Wizarding World of Harry Potter USJ Japan Timed Entry Tickets

If you are visiting Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka and do not have an Express Pass which includes a Timed Entry Ticket to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter then you will need to take action early to ensure that you are able to visit the Harry Potter section of the park.

If you arrive at USJ early, you should be able to walk straight into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter straight away, until they reach the maximum number of people permitted in this section of the park.  When we visited this is what we did – we arrived early and went straight into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Once you are inside you can stay as long as you like.

If you are too late to directly enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter you can obtain a free Timed Entry Ticket from Central Park which is right beside the JAWS section of USJ.  You can then go and enjoy the rest of the park, and then come back to the entrance at your appointed time.

If you have an Express Pass which includes a Timed Entry Ticket then plan to arrive at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at your appointed time.

Note that if the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is at maximum crowd capacity you may still need to wait until enough people leave before you will be able to enter.

Hogwarts School in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter USJ, with the reflection over Black Lake

Hogwarts School in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter USJ, with the reflection over Black Lake

How to Get to Universal Studios Japan USJ in Osaka

How to Get from Tokyo to Universal Studios Japan USJ in Osaka

How Far is Universal Studios Japan USJ in Osaka from Tokyo

USJ is located in the outskirts of the city of Osaka, which is located at a distance of 315 miles or 500km west of Tokyo

Tokyo to Universal Studios Japan USJ in Osaka Train Time

Total train travel time on the bullet train or Shinkansen and other local trains from Tokyo Station to Universal Station is between 3:10 to 3:30 hours one way.  The bullet train section of the trip has a travel time of approximately 2:30 hours.

You can catch a bullet train or Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to either Shin-Osaka Station or Osaka Station, and then change trains (potentially 2 or 3 times) before arriving at Universal City Station, which is the station which adjoins Universal Studios Japan USJ.

Use the Hyperdia website or Google Maps (see map below) to determine the bullet train or Shinkansen schedule and route options.  Add in your departure station (eg. Tokyo Station) and your arrival station (Universal City Station).

Tokyo to Universal Studios Japan USJ in Osaka Shinkansen Train Price

Typical trip price from Tokyo to Universal City Station is 14,500 to 15,500 yen, which includes a reserved seat on the bullet train or Shinkansen train.  If you have a Suica card or ICOCA card you can use these cards for local Osaka travel and local Tokyo travel, and only need to purchase the bullet train or Shainkansen train ticket.

Use the Hyperdia website or Google Maps (see map below) to determine the bullet train or Shinkansen price options.  If you have a Japan Rail pass you may be able to use your JR Pass for all parts of the trip.  Note that not all bullet trains or Shinkansen are covered by the JR pass so ensure you check before booking.

How to Get from Osaka Station to Universal Studios Japan USJ Train Station

People typically arrive in Osaka at either Shin-Osaka Station, Osaka Station, Namba Station, Nishikujo Station, Nipponbashi Station or Shinsaibashi Station.

From each of these stations you can use the Hyperdia website or Google Maps (see map below) to determine the train schedule and route options.  Add in your departure station (eg. Osaka Station) and your arrival station (Universal City Station).  You should expect to have to change trains 2-3 times to enable your arrival at Universal City Station.  You can use an ICOCA card to tap on and off each train.

USJ has a good graphic which shows the specific trains and travelling time required to get from the Osaka / Kyoto region to Universal City Station – go to the lower section of the webpage to see the better picture.

All the train stations are well labelled in English and easy to navigate with the help of the online tools.

How to Get from Kansai Osaka Airport to Universal Studios Japan USJ

There are three main options to get from Kansai Osaka Airport to Universal Studios Japan USJ.  if you are arriving for the first time in Japan and have luggage I recommend either the Airport Limousine Bus or private transfer option – with these options you will quickly arrive at your hotel and not have to immediately try to learn the Japan train system.

The transfer options are as follows:

    • Catch the train from Kansai International Airport Station to Universal City station. You can expect the trip to take approximately 60 minutes and you will need to catch three different trains – which may be a challenge if you have all of your luggage with you.  You can pre-purchase your train ticket from Kansai Airport-Namba through this link, and also pre-purchase your ICOCA train card which will enable you to catch intracity trains and buses around Japan.  Your ICOCA card will enable you to use public transport in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo and many other locations.

  • You can use the Airport Limousine Bus Transfer service from Kansai Osaka Airport. To get to Universal Studios Japan you need to use the Nanko/ Tenpozan (Kaiyukan)/ Universal Studios Japan® route which will take approximately 1:10 hours. This bus has no reservations required, and you pay in cash upon boarding.  You can purchase a one way ticket for 1,550 yen for an adult and 780 Yen for a child, or pay 2,700 yen for a round trip ticket.
  • You can pre-book a private airport transfer from Kansai Osaka Airport to your hotel for up to 8 people per vehicle.

If you will be arriving in Kansai Osaka Airport I recommend that you pre-order a Wifi Router and a mobile phone or cell phone sim card which can be picked up at the terminal after you arrive.  Klook also has a range of other options for pre-delivery of both Wifi and Sim cards if you live in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Kuala Lumper.

If you are proceeding direct to USJ after arrival at Kansai Osaka Airport please be aware that large size coin lockers are only available outside the park entrance, so store your luggage in these lockers before you enter.

How to Get from Kyoto to Universal Studios Japan USJ

Use the Hyperdia website or Google Maps (see map below) to determine the train schedule and price options to get from Kyoto to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.  If you have a Japan Rail Pass you may be able to use your JR Pass for all parts of the trip.

When we visited USJ we did a day trip from Kyoto with an early start.  It was a very long day, but avoided us having to move to another accommodation option.  The train travel time from Kyoto Station to Universal City station is approximately 45-55 minutes, and requires you to use 3 or 4 trains to get there.  We found this option to be reasonably easy to get around.

Hotels Near Universal Studios Japan USJ in Osaka

Booking.com is a great website to check out to find the most cost effective accommodation option for accommodation near Universal Studios Japan USJ in Osaka. It is a good booking option as it enables you to cancel most bookings if required without penalty.  Here are my picks for the best accommodation options near Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka:

  • For hotel style accommodation for up to four people with great facilities including free Wi-Fi in all rooms and air conditioning as well as being right outside the entrance to USJ, I recommend The Park Front Hotel. Check out the latest prices and more details.
  • For larger families with up to five people I recommend the Hotel Keihan Universal Tower which has great facilities including free Wi-Fi, parking, and a spa on the 31st floor with city views, which is only 300m from the entrance to USJ. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Cheap Hotels Near Universal Studios Japan USJ in Osaka

  • For families, couples and solo travellers looking for cheap hotel options near Universal Studios Japan USJ try J-Hoppers Osaka Universal hostel which has bunk bed rooms and family rooms for up to 8 people with shared bathroom facilities and is a short 500m walk from the USJ entrance. Check here for the latest prices and more details.

How to Buy Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka Online Tickets and Express Pass

Universal Studios Japan USJ Hotel Packages and Tours

When preparing this article I researched options for Universal Studios Japan USJ Hotel Packages and Tours and was disappointed to see that the options available did not maximise the amount of time you would get in USJ.

There are two day and three day bullet train packages available from Tokyo to USJ, however I believe that you would be better off independently researching and booking your bullet train tickets, your hotel and your USJ tickets.

Osaka Universal Studios Japan USJ Recommended Itinerary

If you are going to buy both Universal Studios Japan USJ park entry tickets and Express Passes, you are going to want to make the most of your money, which means having one full day in USJ.

Osaka Universal Studios Japan USJ Itinerary Day 1

To achieve this goal the recommended Osaka itinerary is to arrive the day prior to your USJ visit and plan to visit some local attractions including the the Harukas 300 Observatory – you can pre-purchase a Universal Studios Japan USJ Osaka VIP Wristband + HARUKAS 300 Observatory Pass from the Klook website in addition to the standard entry ticket and your Express Pass.  The wristband can only be collected from the Harukas 300 Observatory, and will enable you to be notified of the exact opening time for USJ the following day, and also provides VIP priority entry to the park.

Osaka Universal Studios Japan USJ Itinerary Day 2

On your second day plan to visit Universal Studios Japan USJ from entry until you are either exhausted or when the park closes.  Ensure that you have accommodation booked in Osaka for this night so you can make the most of your day in USJ.

Osaka Universal Studios Japan USJ Itinerary Day 3

On your third day plan for a later start, and either have another day exploring Osaka or plan to travel to your next destination.

Other Osaka Attractions

Other attractions you may be interested in visiting in Osaka on either Day 1 or Day 3 include the following:

Wrap Up

Hopefully the information in this article will enable you to have a much better visit to Universal Studios Japan USJ than we achieved!  This is the article I wished I could find back when we were trying to make our USJ arrangements at the last minute which should enable readers to have a great visit to USJ.  Thanks for making it this far – I know it is a massive article but obviously there is a lot of information to get through to enable you to make the most of your visit to USJ.

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Check out my Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – you are welcome to join and it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

Have you visited Universal Studios Japan?  Please leave a comment below to share your experience.

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