Picture yourself purchasing an admission ticket for Universal Studios Japan (USJ), navigating through bustling crowds, and enduring long queues, only to find out that you are unable to experience your favourite attractions. Imagine completely missing out on the newly-opened Super Nintendo World at the end of the day…

If you are planning for an upcoming trip to USJ, here’s an ultimate guide to maximise your time and money, so you can hop onto your favourite ride more than once and go crazy on all the roller coasters.

1. Buy your tickets in advance

Super Nintendo World

There are two types of admission tickets — Studio Pass and Express Pass, which can be purchased on the official website, official agent sites like Klook, or directly at the park. Studio pass is compulsory for entry into the park, whereas Express Pass allows you to skip the long queues and have a shortened waiting time. To bypass queues and gain direct entry to the park, it is advisable to purchase your tickets in advance. However, it is important to ensure that you only buy tickets from official partners to avoid the risk of being denied entry at the park.

2. Download the USJ app

Photo: USJ

The USJ app serves as a comprehensive guide, providing park information, maps, attraction details, show schedules, and dining options. It also offers real-time updates on attraction wait times, allows for mobile ticketing, and facilitates the purchase and management of Express Passes for shorter queues.

In fact, you are required to book a timed entry ticket in advance to Super Nintendo World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It is important to prioritise and complete this task as soon as possible before entering the park, as it may become unavailable later in the day due to high demand.

3. Get an express pass

USJ NO LIMIT! Parade

Express pass will cost a bomb, but it’s worth it if you are want to make the best out of your USJ experience within a day as it enables holders to bypass queues for selected rides and have guaranteed entry into Super Nintendo World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter instead of having to queue up for the timed entry (which could run out due to limited slots).

There are two options: a Four-ride Pass, priced at ¥6,800-18,800 and a Seven-ride Pass, priced at ¥10,800-23,800; the prices depend on the selected rides and day. You can also choose from the different ride combinations. Do note that the popular combos might get sold out two months in advance!

We went to Universal Studios on a Monday during a non-peak season in June. Even then, the average queue time for a normal studio pass holder was 45 to 120 minutes for some popular rides. Howeve, with the Express Pass, we were able to cut our waiting time to 10 to 25 minutes instead, giving us ample time to try out more rides and even repeat the ones that we love. Not going to lie, it was extremely liberating to walk past everyone else who were painstakingly queueing for their ride.

4. Plan your rides in advance

This might sound crazy, but planning your rides in advance is the way to go in order to maximise the efficiency. I even made a checklist on my phone notes and arranged my rides in order. This is especially useful for Express pass holders as there is a fixed time range for the rides (though they are not super strict about the timing, it’s best not to miss the entire slot). If you are willing to spare extra effort, you can utilise the USJ app to check queue times a few days prior to your visit, giving you a general idea of the expected wait times for your planning.

5. Aim for the most popular ride once the park opens

Entrance of Doraemon XR Ride: Nobita’s Sky Utopia

Everyone tends to rush to the nearest attraction when the park is just opened. But if you are fast enough, sprint towards the most popular attraction first. From my observations, Doraemon XR Ride: Nobita’s Sky Utopia is one of the top rides in USJ with the longest average waiting time of 120 minutes. Therefore, it’s best to complete it at the start of the day. Other alternative popular rides are the roller coaster options and the rides at Super Nintendo World.

6. Get light bites for your meals instead

Mario Cafe & Store (Hollywood Boulevard)

Unfortunately, restaurants tend to have a longer waiting time. Depending on your priorities, you can save a lot more time by ordering light bites and eating them while you are in a queue.

We also missed out the Kinopio Cafe (how sad and unfortunate) in Super Nintendo World as we did not realise we had to get a queue number in advance. We only visited the cafe at the end of our journey at Super Nintendo World, and our slot was an hour later. As guests are not allowed exit and re-enter Super Nintendo World, we had to forfeit the queue number. Hence, if you would like to dine at the newly-opened Kinopio Cafe, the first thing you have to do once you enter Super Nintendo World is to get a queue number.

7. Do NOT go for single rider queue

USJ Harry Potter World

If you are hoping to save time by hopping onto single rider queues, I warn you NOT to. We were stuck in a supposedly 25 min queue for at least an hour, and it’s really all about escalation of commitment, thankfully we pulled through and completed the ride.

8. Arrive early at the park

Early bird gets the worm. As cliche as it might seem, you can possibly save at least an hour of queuing if you are one of the first few to enter the park. I recommend arriving at least 45 minutes prior to the park opening hours.

In total, we spent about SGD 200 per person (Studio pass + Express pass 7) (hyperlink to Klook0 for a 1-day visit at Universal Studios Japan. Even so, we were not able to experience every single attraction in the park, but at least we were able to complete everything on our bucket list!

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