Universal Studios Japan (USJ) may be smaller than its American counterparts, but don’t let size fool you. With areas like Super Nintendo World, Harry Potter, and Minion Park, it’s essential to plan ahead, so that you can make the most of your visit. Worry not, though; we have a one-day USJ itinerary and four tips to save you time and money — including the good-old child switch.

First things first — see how to save money on your tickets to USJ. Park pass sorted? Download the USJ app. It’s your day’s BFF, securing Super Nintendo World entry, serving as your trusty map, and dishing out the wait times. You can also use it to check for special events.

Pro tip: Express Passes are speedy, but spendy. For budget-friendly hacks to skip the pass, peep our tips below the itinerary.

Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios Japan
Photo by Misty Fujii

USJ itinerary for first-time visitors

We battle-tested this itinerary ourselves, and were pleased with the results.

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6:30 a.m.–7 a.m. Rise and shine

Wakey wakey! Depending on your Osaka hotel, it shouldn’t be more than a 30-minute hop to Universal-City Station and USJ, from the city center.

7:30 a.m.–8 a.m. The grand arrival

Time to make an entrance. To score a Super Nintendo World timed entry, arrive at least an hour early. Use the USJ app: One person scans tickets and grabs a group e-ticket via the Area Timed Entry Ticket button. Be quick; they go faster than Yoshi’s eggs!

Note: There’s no need for a timed-entry ticket to get into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

What time does Universal Studios Japan open?

At USJ, the ride hours vary; some days they start operating as early as 8:30 a.m., while others kick off at 9 a.m.. However, the park itself opens an hour beforehand.

On the day we went, we arrived around 8:30 a.m. and the park was already open. We quickly opened the app for timed entry to Super Nintendo World, and the first available slot was 5:50 p.m.! So if you want an earlier time, you’ll need to get there even earlier.

You’ll find a Starbucks and a couple of convenience stores outside the park, where you can get coffee before you start queuing.

Butter beer at USJ
Photo by Misty Fujii

8:30 a.m.–10 a.m. Harry Potter’s magic awaits

Dive into Hogsmeade for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride; lines fill up fast. Then, try the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster. It’s best to do it early, as there’s no single-rider line (more on that below). If it’s not your thing, skip it.

Afterwards, explore Hogsmeade, savor Butterbeer, shop, and enjoy shows, maybe meet a Hippogriff.

Sesame Street toys up for grabs at Amity Boardwalk Games at USJ Osaka
Photo by Misty Fujii

10 a.m.–1 p.m. Tackle Amity Village, Jurassic Park, and more

Explore Amity Village, home to Jaws. If you’re feeling peckish, grab a pizza danish (¥1,000) from Boardwalk Snacks.

For dino thrills, head to Jurassic Park for The Flying Dinosaur roller coaster and the Jurassic Park ride (check for availability).

Then, dive into Minion Park for the goofy yellow crew. Enjoy some themed bites and shop for Minion goodies. Keep going until you reach The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (closing in 2024).

Prefer the parade? Secure an excellent spot for the NO LIMIT! Parade. Check the USJ map for the route and arrive early. For the best view, consider Gramercy Park, but note that it needs a separate ticket. The parade kicks off at 13:00, and includes Pikachu and other Pokemon (subject to change).

Lunchboxes at Mel's Diner at USJ Osaka
Photo by Misty Fujii

1 p.m.–2 p.m. Lunchtime

Beat lunch lines by eating during the NO LIMIT! Parade. Use the USJ app to find a restaurant, including ones that allow QR-code orders, like Mel’s Diner. That way, you can skip a 30-minute wait and get food in under 10 minutes.

2 p.m.–3 p.m. Play and explore

If you’ve got little adventurers in tow, it’s Universal Wonderland time. There are over 30 attractions, starring characters from Sesame Street, Peanuts, Sanrio, and more. Your tots can revel in rides, meet beloved characters, and dive into interactive play areas for all ages.

Walk, meet more characters, catch a show, or indulge in a bit of retail therapy.

Super Nintendo World at USJ Osaka
Photo by Misty Fujii

4 p.m.–5 p.m. Super Nintendo World*

The time has come to dive into Super Nintendo World. Journey through a green pipe, stepping right into the iconic video game.

March to Koopa’s (Bowser’s) castle to queue up for Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge. When wait times stretch to 2-3 hours, remember that the single-rider line is your friend!

With your little one? Find Yoshi’s Adventure for a kid-friendly, slow-paced ride.

You’ll see people sporting cool character power bands (¥4,200). For casual visitors, you don’t need them to enjoy the games and rides. They’re more for frequent visitors and super fans.

*You can’t control what time your entry ticket will be — swap other sections around for your visit to Super Nintendo World.

snoopy cake at the snoopy cafe at USJ
Photo by Misty Fujii

7 p.m.–8 p.m. Final adventures

Hungry? If you snagged a Kinopio’s Cafe reservation, great! Otherwise, head to Snoopy’s Cafe in Universal Wonderland, the more adult-friendly Park Side Grille, or save money by eating outside the park after leaving.

Still not wiped out? Hit Hollywood Dream, a lit-up roller coaster with epic Osaka views and an electrifying soundtrack.

Pro tip: Check the events on the app to see if any night shows or parades are happening.

The classic Universal Studios globe at USJ Osaka
Photo by Misty Fujii

4 tips for your day at USJ

1. Use the single-rider lines

Beat long waits with the single-rider hack. No need for an Express Pass — just be okay with splitting from your group on the ride. Enjoy rides in half the wait or less.

2. Child switch

Traveling with small kids? Child Switch is the trick. One adult rides first, the other babysits, then you swap — and the second adult goes straight to the ride.

3. Make the most of the kid-friendly wonderland

USJ is family-friendly. Kids under 3 enter free. Changing stations are in every bathroom, and there are dedicated childcare rooms in the Universal Wonderland area. Hungry little ones? Snoopy’s Backlot Cafe has baby food, though you can bring your own food for babies/toddlers.

4. Snack and shop smart

Buy food from carts to snack on in ride lines and save shopping for Universal Walk, just outside the park. If you spot a treasure in the park that you want, go for it — but know that USJ’s prices are no joke. For example, those collectible popcorn buckets go for ¥3,500¥4,500 each.

Note: USJ is fun for any weather, and many attractions are indoors or sheltered. On sunny days, just remember to pack water, a hat, sunscreen, and a portable fan.

Also read: Everything you need to know about Universal Studios Japan.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.

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