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USJ or not 2019/12/7 19:30


We are planning a 3 week trip to Japan (august-september).

Our first idea was to include 2 nights in Osaka to visit one full day the USJ (it is our third japan trip and we've already been in Osaka)

But it turns out that this visit day should be on sunday 30 of august. We have some constraints and it is impossible to move it.

I am aware that sunday is a bad day concerning crowds. And so does august.

My question is if I should give up and cancel this visit because the lines are going to miserables.

Some extra info. We are 4 people, so it is not our idea paying a express pass. We are also spending in septmeber (and weekdays) 3 days in TDR.

We wouldn't ride Dinosaur ride anyway (our children are under 132cm). And we don't mind Single riders (we have used intensively in other parks)

And finally, we have never been in any Universal Park.

All in all, will it be crazy going that last august sunday? Otherwise we could use this nights to relax the rest of the trip...

To sum up: Studio pass, without trying Dinousaur and all single riders possible...

Thanks a lot!
by calabiyau  

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/8 05:15

I've been to USJ twice. I am American, but have not been to the USA Universal Parks (Me and my child have been to TDR, WDW and DL though and I went to Paris DL pre-child before it was popular)

This is the USJ Crowd Calendar:

It hasn't gotten estimates for August yet. If you go back to 2019 August though I think the day was yellow or orange.

My child did not make the height line for Dinosaur last trip (June 2018) and might still not make it. (My child is petite.) We got express passes in June 2016 but not for June 2018. I don't remember a lot of single rider lines at USJ vs. TDR, but USJ has nicer waiting areas for children who don't make height lines. It's possible there are some, but I don't remember seeing them for anything we went on. When we had the express passes in 2016, my child was too short to ride Harry Potter (we had one of the 4 packs) and so I used her express pass to ride it a 2nd time. The cast members were perfectly OK with that. I also did that with the Jurassic Park water ride since she was too scared to go on it. In 2018, we didn't need passes because it was two days after a quake in Osaka and we had insane buckets of rain, so the park was completely dead. We also didn't want to do any water rides because of it and some of the coasters weren't running for most of the day. (Harry Potter was since it is indoors and I remember they got Hippogriff up and running since we went on that multiple times.) However, while the park was completely empty it took us 2 or 3 hours including waiting for a train to get to Osaka Station when leaving.

I think it really depends on what lines are like at the new Nintendo Land and how packed that is vs. the rest of the park. The same is true for TDR with its new Beauty and the Beast ride. I heard Soarin' had insane lines when it opened in July 2019.

Depending on your country, I believe JTB offers some hotel stays with 15 or 30 minute early entry for USJ. That can make an enormous difference. We do tend to stay near USJ regardless because 1) it's not that expensive and 2) I like having a short walk in the morning. I also stay on property for TDR because the 15 minute early entry is SUPER helpful. I use to think 15 minutes doesn't make a huge difference but I was wrong. Last trip it gave us a chance to go on a lot more rides at Sea which just has fewer attractions overall, so the lines can get long.

For USJ, and whether it is worth it I would say it depends on what you and your kids like in rides. USJ is definitely "wilder" than TDR. My child loved the HP rides and liked the Sailor Moon show. We also both enjoyed the VR Final Fantasy coaster, but she was disappointed she couldn't make all the height lines. I'm waiting until she can definitely make all the height lines before going back. It's also why I am waiting on Fuji Q and Nagashima. There are some kiddie rides in USJ. Overall, they have MUCH shorter lines than in TDR.

There are no kid discounts on express passes, but the park tickets for kids are discounted a lot more than in the USA. I can get a ticket for me and my child to USJ or TDR for the same price as just my ticket to DL or Universal in the USA.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/8 07:47
Whether to go or not is completely up to you. I have been to Japan twice and currently planning a third trip. I have no interest in USJ or any other theme park. I see it as a waste of a day to do something similar to what you could do at home. But you are different to myself. So your decision making will be different.
by hakata14 rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/9 07:08

Thanks Rkold for your answer! Very informative and helpful. We'll try to move things to delay a couple of days the USJ visit. It is indeed a pity that the express pass is not discounted for children so being 4 we have to consider it or try hard to avoid a peak day.

Concerning if it is worthwhile visiting a theme park or instead 'real' Japan our idea is that in a 25-26 days trip we should have a balance and time for everything. Nature, culture, history, incredible cities. We plan to visit Kyushu with Yakushima, Kumano Kodo and revisit Kyoto and Tokyo. Plenty of volcanos, temples, historic places, hikes. And why not add some days in a theme park, some funny stuff for our children (and for us).

In our second Japanese trip, we and our small children enjoyed a lot everything, from the magic of Koyasan, to the Kyoto small temples, Miyajima, Nara and so on. But I'm not embarrassed to say that we also enjoyed our days in Disney. Equally memorable than those marvelous temples and friendly people.

Best regards!

by calabiyau rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/9 11:38

Please don't apologize for your trip choices. Now I admit, if someone is going to Japan for a week only on their first trip and just wants to do TDR, I might give them a bit of a side eye and try to convince them they should consider something else as well, (Like a day trip to Kamakura) but in the end, it's their trip and their money. We all have different taste. I personally find the Hakone loop and particularly the pirate ship beyond boring. I know I would probably hate the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine route with an undying passion and doing with my kid would be something someone would have to pay me to do. But I know us and in the end, that is who you need to satisfy with your trip, you and your family.

If you want to go to USJ and TDR on your 2nd trip where you are spending over a month in Japan, as long as you have the money to afford it, it is your business.

My kid has been to Japan 4 times with a 5th trip in February and a possible 6th in June. I've been somewhere between 30 and 40 times. If I want to go to theme parks, I can go to theme parks and I don't need to apologize to anyone about it.

I think you should just be realistic about it. I can't say enough about how much it helps to stay on property for USJ and unlike TDR the hotels near USJ seem really affordable. Even without the 15 minute early entry, it is really important to get there a good 45 minutes to 1 hour before entry and I know for my kid, a shorter trip and not getting up as early is always a huge plus.

If you don't think everyone in your party wants to go on all the rides covered by an express pass you can just get them for 1 member of your party or two or 3 or... you are not required to buy them for everyone. Depending on ages and heights of your children, the kiddie rides at USJ overall had much much shorter lines than at TDR. During our 2016 trip, when by noon there was a 1 hour line for Jaws, there was still no line for either car ride for kids as well as a bunch of the other children's rides or the Hello Kitty spinning cupcakes. In contrast in TDR, the rides at Sea specifically geared towards younger kids are mostly inside.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/9 16:56
USJ hasn't been on my radar before but our 8th trip will be next year after Nintendo land opens so we will definitely go, though I'm dreading queues to equal that of Fujikyu Highland in September 2011 after the new ride opened (eejanaika?). If you want to go to a theme park that might be less packed, Japan has plenty of options. For example, are you going to Tokyo? Yomiuriland has rides for the whole family.
by Sal1980 rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/9 19:36

Thanks again Rkold. I wasn't apologizing just giving some context to my USJ visit. I'm proud to say that I've enjoyed my Disney visits so far. No regrets.

I'll consider this express pass mix option and of course stay close to the park. I'm aware that arriving early is essential in any park...

Thanks Sal1980. We'll try USJ this trip. Next one we can try those... I'll keep this recommendation.


PS: 30-40 times in Japan! Wow. I fully understand. This is going to be my third trip and I'm already thinking of so many places that I have to discard and hopefully in another trip... Specially because we are slow travellers...

by calabiyau rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/10 00:07

I collect various types of Japanese fashion dolls and I've gone on a lot of trips related to that. My shortest trip was only 4 or 5 days just to do a doll cruise in Kobe. It was an experience. I also spent a lot of trips just hanging out with JET friends in Kainan and Tanabe when they lived there, so I've not say done the Kumano Kudo, but I've spent several days in the city of Tanabe just hanging out. Japan has also really changed, heck, Japan Guide has changed, it use to just list 200 different places. There are so many more places listed on Japan Guide and so much more information available to English speakers than their use to be. I have a restricted diet, and options in Japan have drastically changed in that respect as well. For people who have toured extensively, I honestly tend to look for Mfedley's posts,

However, I have learned by going to Japan so many times to be OK with doing things that many people, especially here, would consider "something you could do at home" because the reality is even American theme parks are different in Japan. Disney Sea has a lot of unique attractions, like Journey and Nemo and their Tower of Terror is completely different. The new Beauty and the Beast ride is never coming to the US . USJ has their "Cool Japan" rides so my anime loving daughter got to see a special Sailor Moon 3-D movie and go on a Final Fantasy themed ride. I would also like to go to Fuji Q, Spain Mura, and Nagashima Spa Land, but some of them have height and age requirements for the good coasters, neither of which my child meets.

I've also learned traveling with a kid is different than traveling alone. I use to mostly travel alone, so a day trip to Fukuoka from Kyoto to see sakura was a thing. I would not do the same thing with a kid in tow. Maybe other posters' kids are more mature than mine, but I know the limits with mine and I use that when planning an itinerary and giving advice, cause having a cranky child is miserable.

Enjoy your trip!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/10 23:09

Thanks again. You've been very helpful.

We have finally managed to move our Osaka days, so this visit would be a weekday on september. It should be a low season day (hopefully).

Just one more question. Our 8 year old boy is very bold when facing rides (he loved Tower of Terror and japanese were amazed how he enjoyed), but our 10 year old daughter is quite the opposite.

She didn't try ToT, and got scared of Splash mountain (we did it several times in single rider while she waited for us) . She was also reluctant to repeat Journey to the center of the earth.

All other rides were fine (big thunder rail, space mountain, Indiana Jones, all repeated several times) and overall she enjoyed Disney so much that she is extremely happy to return.

How intense are the USJ rides? Flying dinosaur is discarded for size reasons. What about Hollywood dream? And both Harry Potter rides?

Are more in the Space Mountain/Big Thunder range or in the Journey/ToT one?

Thanks a lot!

by calabiyau rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/11 01:16

So, I am going to go by my child who is currently 9 and was 7 last time she was in USJ and 8 last time in TDR/WDW.

My child doesn't like ToT, any of its iterations, including the more brightly colored and less visually frightening Guardians of the Galaxy overlays for Mission Breakout in DL. WDW ToT is one of my favorite rides, so this is a great sadness to me lol Mine liked Journey and originally was scared of Splash, but I think now is willing to do it? She also goes on Expedition Everest.

My child was too short for Hollywood Dream, it has the same height line as Flying Dino, 132 cm, so none of us went on it. It's a bonafide coaster though and you can see most of the track. If your children do not like coasters they do not want to go on it. It's one of the rides that could have single rider but I don't know, because I didn't leave my child alone to go on it. I think my child would like it though, she loved the Incredicoaster and isn't afraid of actual coasters.

Harry Potter is a dark ride with striking visuals. You're in a special car that swings and moves around a lot, so if you are prone to motion sickness it can be an issue, but it doesn't have any drops really. It's really about the visuals, which are superb and if your children are HP fans, they will love it. They have a lovely waiting area for non-riders right near where entry to the ride cars is located and your 10 year old would be allowed to wait there for you if she felt comfortable.

Hippogriff is a small roller coaster, you might want to try that before Dream. My daughter loved it and went on it multiple times. There is HP theming in the waiting area but the track is pretty much a coaster.

Space Fantasy is just weird, we went on it when it had a Final Fantasy overlay. The 3D gear is heavy.

At 5, mine found Jaws frightening, but it was closed for refurb when she was 7, but I am sure she could handle it now.

I have not taken her on Jurassic Park the ride. If your child can't handle Splash, she can't handle that. It also has a great waiting area near where you board the ride.

USJ just does such a good job with nice waiting areas right near ride boarding and ride exiting, so that non-riders can spend more time with you and you know exactly where they are. I think in that respect it is better than Disney, which works more under the assumption the whole group is riding something.

One thing to note about USJ, unlike TDR, once you enter you can not leave, so if you want to shop on their shopping street outside the park, do it either in the evening or a different day in Osaka,

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/11 06:12
Easier then... We'll skip both (it makes no sense a huge line if they are not riding)

It is also good news that waiting zones are more friendly than in TDR. When we did Splash mountain without her, it was kind of stressful because it was not clear where we were going to appear and where she was waiting.. Anyway, TDR staff was really helpful and we managed...

Thanks a lot!
by calabiyau rate this post as useful

Re: USJ or not 2019/12/11 07:32

You're welcome. I think the issue with Disney is a lot of rides have the exit somewhere different than the entrance, but yeah I was happily surprised with the waiting areas in USJ. I only know 100% about the ones for the big HP ride and the Jurassic Park Ride. The HP one even played HP movies for the waiters. All of these areas had lots of seating. For Hippogriff, my child went on it a few times without me, I had no problem finding a nice bench near the exit and finding her was super easy.

We did single rider for Indiana Jones last trip and it was a PIA trying to find my kid after.

I am sure you are going to have a great time! My kid loved the butterbeer in HP land and insisted on buying a wand. Just be careful souvenirs can get really expensive super fast just like in Disney.
by rkold rate this post as useful

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