There was no way we were going to Osaka and not visiting Universal Studios – I have been a theme park lover since way back, and I breathed a not-so-secret sigh of relief when I learnt that Andy was too. I’m not sure what he would have done with his day otherwise… 😊 We had done some research and had a few of our thoughts and concerns confirmed to us. We also learnt a few handy pointers, of which I am happy to share:
1. Avoid weekends, Fridays and public holidays (Wednesdays and Thursdays are best, we went on a Thursday). Queues for the popular rides at peak times can apparently get up to a three hour wait.
2. Get there early, about an hour before gates open if possible (check online what time the park opens before you go, as it can vary day by day). It is a nice feeling being near the front when the gates open. People run (!!) and I suspect it would be quite frustrating being at the back of the queue watching people take off.
3. Buy tickets beforehand. We used the authorised reseller “Klook”. We downloaded the app and then just presented our tickets on our phones. If you choose to buy on the day you will have to line up twice (before you even make it through the front gate).
4. Plan your route, especially if it going to be busy. Harry Potter World runs on a timed ticket entry when it’s busy (meaning you get an allocated time slot for entry into the area. The catch is, you only get one, and if you miss your allocated time slot, say goodbye to sipping a butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks!). Other popular rides are the Flying Dinosaur (which is at the far left back corner of the park) and Hollywood Dream (which is quite soon on your right after entry into the park). Minion Land also tends to be quite busy, I guess because it is a common place for families to head first.
5. Consider whether an express pass or a VIP wristband is for you. If you think so, they need to be purchased in addition to your basic ticket entry. An express pass basically gives you quicker access to certain rides, and the wristband enables you earlier entry (approx 30 minutes) into the park. We tried to get an express pass but they were sold out, so we went with neither (but it wasn’t a peak time).
6. Food and drink. Although bringing your own food and drink is discouraged by the park, it is certainly one way to save money! There were no bag checks anywhere – I took a bottle of water with me (expecting it to be confiscated) and we had muesli bars in our pockets, and we noticed people who actually brought in entire bags of their own food, of which nobody seemed to care.
7. Singles lines. Cuts your wait time down like you would not believe. Apparently Japanese people don’t like to go on rides alone, so this is a time-saving strategy that goes unexploited by most. Andy and I went through the singles line for the Flying Dinosaur (a wait time of 20 minutes versus 50 minutes) and no kidding, we were on the ride within FIVE minutes AND we got to sit next to each other. Obviously you run the risk of that not always happening, but for us, we got lucky!