Spring Japan 2015 – [Day 7] Universal Studios and Harry Potter!!

On this morning, we were prepared for rain and cold. The temperature that day had read 10C, so we had packed raincoats, our thickest coats and comfortable shoes. Dragging our luggage out the hotel, we were stopped by one of the counter staff, who had thought we had forgotten to return our key when we checked out. I quickly told him that we were only shipping our luggage, and not checking out until tomorrow. Sheepishly he apologized profusely, before gesturing the way to the rain station.

It was drizzling a little as we found our way easily back to Kyoto train station. We arrived at the delivery service just before 9:00am, where I asked Sue to write the address down, since her Chinese writing was probably more legible than mine, not to mention more efficient, considering the amount of times I would need to refer to write it once – not to mention twice. Also, I filled in her immigration form, so she owed me 1 (#justsaying LOL). Taking our luggage into the storage, we were finally free of them for the next 3 days! I was honestly really happy that I didn’t have to worry about squeezing with my luggage for another train ride!

With the luggage out of the way, we headed off to USJ. We had booked our USJ tickets while we were still in Singapore, and thanks to research, were also able to purchase our Express Passes in Singapore! Armed with the QR codes in our phones, we took the train to Universal City. (To find out how to purchase, read my guide separately).


UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン

DIRECTIONS:
The entrance gate of the Universal Studios Japan is located a five minute walk from Universal City Station on the JR Yumesaki Line (also referred to as JR Sakurajima Line). From Osaka Station, there are several direct trains per hour (15 minutes, 180 yen) and many more connections that require an easy transfer at Nishikujo Station. – japan-guide.com

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We arrived at Universal City, relatively easily (considering I didn’t get us lost), to be welcomed by a GIGANTIC poster of Harry Potter. The excitement mounted as it was the 1 thing we wanted to see the most. Our entrance timing was 2pm, so we had about 3 hours to explore the rest of the area! With the Express Pass we weren’t worried about not being able to enter.

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Walking through the University City Plaza, we found our way to the entrance relatively easily. Scanning the QR code using our phones, we had completely skipped any form of queue. The sky was slightly gloomy, but no rain yet, so we took the time to look around. There were a lot of parents bringing their kids around, kids who were wrapped up warmly like a dumpling in the 5C weather.

At the corner of several shops, we found some really interesting hats, and spent quite some time just playing with the weird hats they had available (mostly me forcing Sue to wear them hehe)


UNIVERSAL COOL

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The first thing we walked past was the Universal Cool Japan attraction. A large dragon stood in the middle of 2 buildings, wings spread out wide. The Attack on Titan shirts were worn by staff and visitors alike, taking photographs with the different exhibits that were available. Since me and Sue both knew nothing about this anime, we just took a few pictures and moved on. One of the statues we were more intrigued by were 2 giants fighting (I can only assume they were meant to be lifesize).

From what we could see, both giants were naked. The male faced away from us, which sparked Sue’s next question – how would they censor the private areas? We turned to the other end to take a closer look. Clearly, this giant had no privates at all.

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Moving on, we continued walking until we saw a small stall. They were selling alien shaped buns. I don’t know what it was supposed to represent but I found it cute, so I bought one for the fun of it. It turned out to be a meatbun filled with tomato paste (nothing like the Chinese char shao bun that I was expecting), which warmed us up in the cooling breeze. We turned down the right lane (clearly we had no idea where we were going).

 

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Following the giant rollercoaster circling the theme park, we walked around aimlessly, exploring the different sights and features, until we came to a singing quartet. They were really good so we stood there watching for awhile – stupid Sue was dancing next to me, bobbing her body left and right like some bobblehead, enjoying the music HAHAHA.

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We walked on after about 2 songs, and stumbled on a churros van. We bought a chocolate churro to share, while we explored the other areas.

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There were a lot more themed areas this time, with a minions area selling minion dangos (I think, we didn’t get to try it).

 


JURASSIC PARK

 

Sue and I knew we weren’t rollercoaster fans, so we had planned to skip most of the coaster rides anyway. At the Jurassic Park section, something GIGANTIC caught our eye. We had seen children munching on a giant turkey leg as we walked past, and I remembered my sis eating one back in 2004 when we stopped by Osaka on our Hokkaido trip. But this time we saw something even more awesome – DINOSAUR RIB. We bought 1 to share, along with a hot drink!

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The DINORIB was GIGANTIC. And it was really quite good, though it was not soft at all. It was hard and we had to gnaw at different parts of the bone in order to get the meat off. It was literally a tug of war with the meat holder and the meat biter LOL!

Since Jurassic Park was a roller coaster, we skipped it, and somehow found ourselves meandering into the kiddy area of Sesame Street.


SESAME STREET

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I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a previous installment – there was even Hello Kitty here which I was 100% sure was not part of the Universal Studios franchise. Nonetheless, we walked through the little shops and I forced Sue to try on stupid hats. The staff at Universal Studio didn’t seem so strict on the no-picture policy. I remember DisneySEA was much stricter when it came to taking pictures of their merchandise.

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Suddenly, the mascots came out to play, so Sue and I had some fun watching the mascots, especially Elmo and the skateboard ride. I loved how he went “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” as the ride went up and down and around – like a Viking ship, but slower to allow kids to ride.

By this time, the sky was starting to turn dark, and I was starting to get worried that it would rain. We turned around and spotted another shop selling a series of other hats. We had more fun fooling around with the silly hats, before somehow, we found ourselves at a HARRY POTTER SHOP.

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I did not know that there was another shop outside the original Harry Potter Area! Eagerly, we walked around to get a glimpse of what we could get there (and what we could not). They had capes, wands, some souvenirs like notebooks, t-shirts, pillows and a lot of other stuff. I had wanted to get the cape or scarf while I was there, but the cost was WAYYYYY too high. Checking our time, we realized that we were nearing 2pm, and we had NO IDEA where the Harry Potter Area was, so we rushed off to look for it!


HARRY POTTER AREA

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Surprisingly, the Harry Potter area was pretty magically hidden. We had walked past it and had no idea that that was the place! The entrance resembled ruins that looked like part of the Jurassic Park area, and we had walked past it nonchalantly the first time. We arrived just in time for our slot, and cut through the queue pretty quickly.

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The winding road (queue) walked through the Forbidden Forest, the theme song blasting beautifully, completing the atmosphere. It would have been PERFECT if there was snow, just like the wintry wonderland that Hogwarts was always portrayed to be. We walked into an opening, only to see the famous car that had crashed into the Forbidden Forest. There were a bunch of visitors taking photographs there, so we did too quickly, and moved on.

The entrance of Hogsmeade was really like entering a different world. Busy shops and bustling streets, and on a cliff that overlooked it all, stood Hogwarts. Hogsmeade was filled with snow-capped shops and sights, complete with the famous highlights of the book, including Sirius Black’s wanted poster, the Hogwarts Express, Honeydukes and Hogs Head! There was even a Butterbeer truck!

 

Hogwarts stood, a distance away, looming over Hogsmeade. A large queue was forming at the base of the giant castle, and our excitement grew as we approached the queue. The first thing we saw was – the ride waiting time, was 200 minutes. By then, it was nearing 0C, and Sue and I were super glad that we had purchased our express passes beforehand. Queuing 200 minutes in the outdoor cold, was not something we were looking forward to!

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We headed in the castle, scanned our QR codes – minor mishap there we had overlapped QR codes! Small misunderstanding aside, they ushered us to a locker room where we were to put our belongings. You were not allowed to take anything in with you. There was a bustle for lockers, before we found 2 that were relatively close to each other that we wouldn’t get lost. Stuffing our phones, bags and cameras into the locker, we joined the queue.

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The express queue was much faster than the normal queue! We bypassed the normal queue and in 5 minutes (not waiting, we had to walk for almost 5 minutes before we got to the front), we reached the front of the queue! There was almost no waiting time – or at least, there were enough things to entertain us, walking through the castle, walking past the moving paintings, through the grand hall, and finally to the front of the queue. At this point, NEITHER OF US, knew what to expect. We knew it wasn’t a roller coaster, but we had NO IDEA what we signed ourselves up for.

They strapped us into a round chair each, with the typical roller-coaster gear. I got a little afraid not – did I read it wrongly? Was it really a roller coaster? As the ride moved in, we were completely, UTTERLY, unprepared for the awesomeness that happened next.

In the ride, we flew alongside Harry, Hermione and Ron, running from dragons, bludgers and even dementors. Flying across the lake, through a Quidditch match, the effects were AMAZING. The dragon breathed fire on us, the cold creepy feeling as the temperature dropped when the Dementors came. What made it even more amazing was the that ride flipped us in all different angles, screaming and laughing all the way, before finally bringing us back with a blast at the castle.

It was really AMAZING. I have never enjoyed myself on any other ride, and at that time I knew that the money we paid, just for this 1 ride, would have been worthwhile.

After we came out of the ride, hair blown in all odd directions, we took a quick look at the merchandise, before heading out. I wanted to try a butterbeer, so we bought a hot 1 to share.

Butterbeer was something different than I thought it would be. We tried a hot one since the temperature was dropping. Sitting on the steps of Hogsmeade, we drank the warm drink happily. It was definitely honey based, but Sue insisted that there was some form of spices inside that gave it its kick – we suspected it was cinnamon.

Drinks down, bellies happy, we decided to take a castle walk tour. This was a 15 minutes wait across the same areas that we had bypassed while bypassing the queue. We saw Dumbledore’s office, and a lot more details of the castle that we missed because we had skipped the queue. This was a good choice for express pass holders – to skip the queue and still get to feel the atmosphere of the castle.

After we left the castle walk, we took some time to explore the other shops at the Harry Potter area.We went into Hogs Head, which was serving actual alcohol. Decided that it was too dark / rowdy (it really gave a rowdy feel), and somehow found ourselves exploring the Astronomy shop, where all the knick knacks and wonders were sold. Connected to that, was Ollivanders, where we could buy any wand we wanted. I had heard that there was some sort of show going on here, but it wasn’t at that point in time, and due to the SEA of people in the shop, we decided to move on – afterall, I could get my wand at the shop outside!

I literally bought everything to try (except the pumpkin juice). The pumpkin pasties were really quite nice, especially since they were warm and we were beyond frozen in the 0C weather by then.

We decided instead to head into HONEYDUKES. Honeydukes was my favourite! There was a short queue and the crowd was massive, but we managed to get some goodies!

I bought almost everything I could recognize! (I may as well review them now since I ate most of them already LOL)

Droobles – a deep blueberry taste, and larger than a blueberry in size. Super chewy to the point that my mouth went numb, but it did indeed live up to the “best bubblegum” tagline. The gum was thick and it took some effort to blow the gum, but the bubble could go on for quite a long time! I splattered it on my glasses once HAHAHA.

Peppermint frogs – different from chocolate frogs, these come in a dark chocolate peppermint taste. I love peppermint so this was a win all the way!

Exploding bon bons – remember the candy that almost danced in your mouth? Those that sizzle and somewhat crackle? Exploding bonbons have that in its core, only it’s a more violent crackle that you can hear even with your mouth closed! SUPER FUN!

Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans – Super realistic, as expected. Have it at a party with friends for more fun!

Armed with our goodies, we bought a bag each and squeezed our way out! Taking one last walk around the area, we decided it was time to leave, as the place was gradually getting more crowded.


JAWS

We decided to take another ride, and since JAWS was the closest one around, we quickly got into the queue. The express pass bypassed the 15minute original queue and we soon found ourselves in the boat. I made Sue sit on the outside, as I was afraid we would get wet (her jacket is more waterproof).

Jaws was a really fun ride – but in a different way. A very animated Japanese man acted as a tour guide, driving the boat, telling us how this was the place that they had shot Jaws many years ago.

That there was no real giant sharks and so on. Halfway during this tour-guide speech, the radio sounded for help, signaling that someone ahead was in trouble. We turned the bend only to see the previous boat capsizing in a sea of fire. Suddenly, a shark appears at the side of the boat, and the tour guide barely manages to get away. We drive through different scenes of the movie, finally reaching the end where the silly tour guide shoots a bail of oil instead, engulfing us in fire. Jaws appears one last time, biting huge cable wires. A well-aimed shot at the shark, and he was burnt to a crisp. We returned to the base of the camp, only for the tour guide to tell us that what we had experienced was a secret, and should be kept a secret. It was a really well-enacted on the staff’s part – he made the ride hilarious and more exciting than it was when I first rode it years ago (when I didn’t understand a thing). I had to translate bits of it for Sue, so that she knew what was going on.


WATERWORLD

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After that ride, we realized Waterworld was playing! It was a highlight of my previous trip, and this one didn’t disappoint either! The effects and the actors were really nimble despite being in the cold and constantly plunging into the water from different varying heights. Sue vaguely mentioned the water was probably warm, and that the actors and actresses were wearing nude colored skin suits underneath to keep themselves warm. What was the strangest was that, as per Waterworld standards, most, if not all, of the actors were American (including the one in Singapore, because one of them was my best friend’s ex-boyfriend.) So to hear them speak in Japanese – sounded very much like dubbed Japanese anime, was kind of strange. There was also a spray area where some sat, knowing that they would get wet. Sue asked why would anyone sit there, but I guess that was part of the fun.


MORE GOODIES

Leaving Waterworld, we grabbed our last minute goodies at the Harry Potter shop outside, near the entrance. We bought 3 boxes of cookies (2 for friends) and 2 pillows. I bought a wand for myself, while Sue bought herself a T-shirt. I had also gotten a notebook along with some other goodies that I don’t recall. Armed with more paperbags (I had 2, Sue had 1), we prepared to return back to the hotel.

On the way out, we walked past the shopping area, so we went in to take a look. There were a lot of different varieties of food, but we smartly decided that we no longer had hands to carry anything else!

It was a 1 hour ride back to the hotel, and we had purchased some conbini fruits and vegetables and other nice looking stuff from the conbini at Universal Studio. Armed with dinner and goodies from Harry Potter, we trudged back to the hotel. It was only when we neared the hotel, did I realize something: WE HAD SHIPPED OUR LUGGAGE OFF! All we had left was the 2 backpacks on our bags (which were already packed FULL with clothes for the next days), and a small knapsack to share! And we still had wires, toiletries and who knows what other stuff to carry in that! HOW WERE WE GOING TO CARRY IT ALL! I asked Sue, and for a moment, we stared at each other, perplexed that we had both forgotten this very vital detail. Laughing it off, we dumped everything back in the hotel and proceeded to repack and re-stuff our luggage.

After almost 2 hours of repacking, refolding, and coordinating, we finally got everything stuffed in the luggage, except for the 2 pillows! We figured that we could find a bag while on our way tomorrow, so we left the 2 pillows aside and stuffed everything else into our luggages. I fell asleep shortly after, vaguely wondering how we were going to survive the next 3 days with so much things and no bag – considering that we were probably going to buy even more things!


To read more about my Spring Japan 2015 Trip:

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Payment for USJ Studio Pass and Express Pass Online

This page is a guide on payment only. To see how to purchase Studio Pass and Express Pass online, click here.

For express passes only, click here.


Few things you’d need to know about the payment guide. In order to purchase these online, you would have to apply for a Club Universal membership. It’s free, so no worries.

Whether you’ve purchased Studio Pass or not, you should see this on the right side of your screen.

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Click on the box that I’ve, well, boxed up in red. This will begin your application process.


APPLYING FOR A NEW ACCOUNT

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Please click the image above. I have put in the translations for you to follow.

For the 3rd and 4th input fields, you are supposed to fill in the phonetic sound of your name in FULL WIDTH KATAKANA. Please use this website to translate your name if you are unsure how. Please key it in separately – so that it translates separately. http://www.sljfaq.org/cgi/e2k.cgi

Below that, select your birthdate. Japanese follow YYYY/MM/DD

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Now, select your gender. The first one 男性 is for MALE, and the other is 女性, for female.

The next field メールアドレス[必須], is for email address. Key in an email address as the example shows in the input field.

パスワード[必須] is password. Key it in twice as the example shows.

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This is for contact details. 連絡先[携帯電話番号または自宅電話番号どちらか1つ必須] – requests that you input a contact number in, be it home or mobile. You can simply put your hotel’s number in. Remember to omit the dashes in the number if you are copying from the hotel’s website.

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Ok this is the tricky part. This requires your address. No worries though. Under the first field “郵便番号[必須]”, simply key in the hotel’s postal code. This usually looks like “431-4929” or marked with a T with an additional horizontal line above. Key in that and let the system search for your hotel address by clicking the dark grey box next to it.

Once that is filled, it should automatically fill in all other columns. ビル・マンション名など”, you may leave blank.

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Agree to the terms and conditions by clicking on the checkbox like above, and click on the yellow box to continue.

You should be sent to the next page, requesting that you key in your credit card details at the bottom.

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  • First field “カード番号 “ is for your credit card number.
  • “カード有効期限 ”is for your card expiry date (MM/YY)
  • “セキュリティコード ” refers to your security code, which is the 3 digit number behind your card.
  • “支払い方法[必須] Last field is whether you wish to make lump sum (一括払い) payment or revolving credit (リボ払い).

You will then be sent to a basic summary where you can confirm your details. You can turn on auto translate to check if you wish.

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Here, you’ll need to consent that you have checked the right number of passes, the right number of adults and children, and the right admission date. Once all 3 checkboxes are ticked, you can click on the yellow box at the bottom to confirm.

After this, you will be sent to your credit card payment page.

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Here, it’s basically a verification page. The information in the top yellow box refers to the date you have chosen to visit USJ, as well as your order number for verification purposes. Below, you’d see what tickets you have purchased. To get the QR codes that you will need, simply tick on the checkbox and click on the blue button and it should open the QR code instantly for you to print / save a copy of!

*Note: Last screen and steps credit to Yi Lin and Oktavienna for being kind enough to advise me on what happens next!


IN CASE YOU NEED TO CHECK YOUR CODES IN FUTURE:

Go here.

Login using your Club Universal Membership Login (email) and password. You should be able to go back to that same page.


CONCLUSION

Thank you for taking the time to reading the guide, and I hope it helped you! Please let me know!

know if you encountered any steps that are out of my guide, and I will try to put them in if I am able to simulate them.

Thank you, and thanks for waiting so long for this to come out.

Purchase USJ Express Pass ONLY Online

Hello! This page gives you a quick guide on how to purchase USJ Express Pass online, without the Studio Passes. If you wish to purchase Studio Pass and Express Passes online at the same time, please see my other guide here.


STEP 1:

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First, you click the 3rd item on the box as shown in the image above. Select the dropdown menu with the calendar on it to pick your date.


STEP 2: 

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A calendar should open like above. On the top is the year and month that you’re currently viewing (in the guide’s case, 2015 of April), along with [next month] button on the right.

Below it you will see the different dates you’re looking at. Boxes that are white with blue boxes mean that the date is still available for booking, whereas grey out boxes mean that you cannot book it online anymore (usually meaning that you have to purchase in Japan, not that it’s sold out).

A purple star represents days where the Starlight Parade is performing. However, do take note that usually the Starlight Parade performs almost nightly – but the schedule doesn’t come out until a later period. So it isn’t strange to not see a star if you’re booking 3 months in advance, only to have it appear at a later time. Also, rain and bad weather may affect the parade’s schedule, so don’t bother too much about it! The timings in the various boxes show the opening and closing time of USJ on the day that you are booking.

After you have decided what day you wish to purchase your Express Pass for, click on the blue button to continue.

Once that is selected, you will be brought back to the previous page. Click on the yellow button to continue.


STEP 3:

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You will see something like the above image. Once again, my translations in red. Again, I must stress to double check the Katakana in the screen shot against the website, as they will add passes time to time, and I’ve only captured the basics. Click on the grey box if you wish to know more (though it’s in Japanese). Once you’ve decided, click on the yellow box with the cart next to the appropriate choice.


STEP 4:

You’re given the choice of Direct In or Home Delivery. (the option in the middle, Park Exchange, is not valid for Express Passes, and will not show up in your page).

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  • [ダイレクトイン] Direct In – QR codes will be issued immediately after purchase. You can print out a copy, or save it on your phone. Please print as well, in case your phone doesn’t work on the day, you still have a spare copy. Remember not to fold it along the QR lines, as that may affect the reading as well.
  • [宅配] Home Delivery – deliver it to your home. Please note that this is not available for hotels. Shipping costs are also not included at this point (Y450)

As advised previously, I recommend Direct In, as it is super convenient. However, select whichever method you prefer and continue scrolling down.


STEP 5:

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Now, you select the number of express passes you want. There is no difference between adults or kids here, so just the number you wish to purchase and continue scrolling down.


STEP 6:

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Now, this is the tricky part. FIRST, DISCLAIMER. This is only eligible for those who have selected passes that are valid for the Harry Potter area. If you have selected other passes, you probably will not see this section. Skip if so. For those who have selected Express Passes that allow you to book your slots for Harry Potter area, this part is for you.

On the drop down menu, select the time that you wish to ENTER the AREA. This is not the time you will take the ride. The ride timing will usually be approximately 15minutes after your entrance time. It’s okay to be a little earlier, in my experience.

To see the timings, click here. (this is the same link as the one in the box below the dropdown menu)

First column (in dark blue) explains the entrance timing.

For example, 8:50 ~ 9:50 means you can enter anytime from 8:50am to 9:50am. There will be a signboard telling you what time admissions they are currently taking. But to re-enter, you will need to re-queue. Your express pass will not cover it. The 2nd column

The 2nd column (i.e. 8:50 ~) tells you that you can spend time inside anytime FROM that period of time, as long as you don’t exit. Meaning to say that once you enter, you’re free until you choose to exit.

The 3rd column (i.e. 9:00~9:15) is the time that you must join the queue to ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Once again, there is a signboard next to it telling you what time is available for entrance. Do not join the normal queue – the express pass queue is different. Ask if you are not sure.

Once you have chosen your time, click on the cart box at the bottom to continue.

Once that is done, you have added both Studio Pass and Express Pass to cart. On the top right, you can click the cart to confirm your purchases.

Go to the Payment Guide to continue.


Sidenote: Please note that if you use auto-translate for your browsers, this page will have an error. You will not be able to select the time. Make sure that you’ve turned off auto translate – refresh the page if you have to by choosing a different number of sheets for the express pass and then changing it back.


Purchase USJ Studio and Express Pass Online Guide!

Here is a step by step guide for all those out there wanting to purchase USJ Studio Pass and Express Pass Online. If you only wish to Purchase Express Pass online, please see my other guide here.

STEP 1:

For Studio Passes, click the first box – this should be automatically highlighted when you enter the page. It would have the words “スタジオパス” on it. This means “Studio Pass”.

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Your window should look like this. Below, there is what seems like a calendar icon on a button. Clicking on that will open a new window.


STEP 2: 

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A calendar should open like above. On the top is the year and month that you’re currently viewing (in the guide’s case, 2015 of April), along with [next month] button on the right.

Below it you will see the different dates you’re looking at. Boxes that are white with blue boxes mean that the date is still available for booking, whereas grey out boxes mean that you cannot book it online anymore (usually meaning that you have to purchase in Japan, not that it’s sold out).

A purple star represents days where the Starlight Parade is performing. However, do take note that usually the Starlight Parade performs almost nightly – but the schedule doesn’t come out until a later period. So it isn’t strange to not see a star if you’re booking 3 months in advance, only to have it appear at a later time. Also, rain and bad weather may affect the parade’s schedule, so don’t bother too much about it! The timings in the various boxes show the opening and closing time of USJ on the day that you are booking.

After you have decided what day you wish, click on the blue button to continue. Once that is selected, you will be brought back to the previous page. Click on the yellow button to continue.


STEP 3:

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On the next page, it will give you a summary of the day you have chosen, along with the types of passes valid during that period of time. Here is an example – please note that there are more types than what is shown above.

I have translated a few, please click to view larger versions. My translations are in red. Please double check this against your selection by checking the Katakana.

Once you have decided, (in the case of this guide, I will select a 1 day studio pass), click on the yellow button with the cart on the right side.


STEP 4:

Now, you will have to choose the METHOD of delivery. The page will show you your previous selection, as well as the date you have chosen. Scroll down till you see this:

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[5 December 2015] UPDATE: As of today, I am told that due to resellers and 3rd party auction sites, DIRECT IN (as below) is no longer an option available for STUDIO PASSES – DIRECT IN for EXPRESS PASSES seem to still be available. As such, the only options available now would be to do a park exchange.

For those who are apprehensive about the Park Exchange manner, it is strongly suggested that you simply purchase the Express Pass separately – as you can buy the Studio Passes while you are in Japan directly from USJ. Do note that I did read somewhere that on busy days they do stop selling passes momentarily, so you want to get there early – the last thing you want to happen is not being able to use your express pass because you don’t have a studio pass!

As in the image above, you will be given 3 choices. Basically:

  • [ダイレクトイン]Direct In – QR codes will be issued immediately after purchase. You can print out a copy, or save it on your phone. Please print as well, in case your phone doesn’t work on the day, you still have a spare copy. Remember not to fold it along the QR lines, as that may affect the reading as well. (THIS IS CURRENTLY NO LONGER VALID – as I’m not sure if this is a temporary or permanent solution, I have chosen not to remove this content yet)
  • [パーク…] Park Exchange – exchange your pass at the park. You will require your credit card (the one used to make this purchase) as well as telling the counter staff “WEB purchase”. Note – you will probably have to be there earlier as you would need to queue to exchange now. Hopefully they re-implement the Direct In method soon…
  • [宅配] Home Delivery – deliver it to your home. Please note that this is not available for hotels. Shipping costs are also not included at this point (Y450)

STEP 5:

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Now, you choose the number of studio passes you require.

  • 大人[12歳以上]refers to adults 12 and above
  • 子ども[4〜11歳]refers to children between 4 to 11
  • シニア[65歳以上] refers to elderly 65 and above.

Please note that for children, the Japanese school year starts on the 1st of April. If your child is admitted into Junior High in that year (meaning he turns 12 that year), he will be considered an adult if he is entering the park on April 1st or later. Between January 1st to March 31st, he will still be considered a child and is eligible for child pass.

Select the number of sheets (number of studio passes) you want per category, and click the yellow box at the bottom to add to cart.

[Stop here if you only wish to purchase Studio Pass, and proceed to the Payment Guide. Continue if you wish to purchase Express Pass with Studio Pass].


STEP 6:
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If you wish to purchase an Express Pass, continue on. You will see something like the above image. Once again, my translations in red. Again, I must stress to double check the Katakana in the screen shot against the website, as they will add passes time to time, and I’ve only captured the basics. Click on the grey box if you wish to know more (though it’s in Japanese). Once you’ve decided, click on the yellow box with the cart next to the appropriate choice.


STEP 7:

Similarly, you’re given the choice of Direct In or Home Delivery. I’ll copy and paste the information in case some of you guys joined halfway and didn’t read the top.

  • [ダイレクトイン] Direct In – QR codes will be issued immediately after purchase. You can print out a copy, or save it on your phone. Please print as well, in case your phone doesn’t work on the day, you still have a spare copy. Remember not to fold it along the QR lines, as that may affect the reading as well.
  • [宅配] Home Delivery – deliver it to your home. Please note that this is not available for hotels. Shipping costs are also not included at this point (Y450)

As advised previously, I recommend Direct In, as it is super convenient. However, select whichever method you prefer and continue scrolling down.


STEP 8:
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Now, you select the number of express passes you want. There is no difference between adults or kids here, so just the number you wish to purchase and continue scrolling down.


STEP 9:

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Now, this is the tricky part. FIRST, DISCLAIMER. This is only eligible for those who have selected passes that are valid for the Harry Potter area. If you have selected other passes, you probably will not see this section. Skip if so. For those who have selected Express Passes that allow you to book your slots for Harry Potter area, this part is for you.

On the drop down menu, select the time that you wish to ENTER the AREA. This is not the time you will take the ride. The ride timing will usually be approximately 15minutes after your entrance time. It’s okay to be a little earlier, in my experience.

To see the timings, click here. (this is the same link as the one in the box below the dropdown menu)

First column (in dark blue) explains the entrance timing.

For example, 8:50 ~ 9:50 means you can enter anytime from 8:50am to 9:50am. There will be a signboard telling you what time admissions they are currently taking. But to re-enter, you will need to re-queue. Your express pass will not cover it. The 2nd column

The 2nd column (i.e. 8:50 ~) tells you that you can spend time inside anytime FROM that period of time, as long as you don’t exit. Meaning to say that once you enter, you’re free until you choose to exit.

The 3rd column (i.e. 9:00~9:15) is the time that you must join the queue to ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Once again, there is a signboard next to it telling you what time is available for entrance. Do not join the normal queue – the express pass queue is different. Ask if you are not sure.

Once you have chosen your time, click on the cart box at the bottom to continue.

Once that is done, you have added both Studio Pass and Express Pass to cart. On the top right, you can click the cart to confirm your purchases.

Go to the Payment Guide to continue.


Sidenote: Please note that if you use auto-translate for your browsers, this page will have an error. You will not be able to select the time. Make sure that you’ve turned off auto translate – refresh the page if you have to by choosing a different number of sheets for the express pass and then changing it back.]


Purchasing Studio Passes and Express Passes Online – 2015 Edition

So, it’s been a few months since my first guide came out. Clearly, USJ has updated their site not long after my guide was out. A lot of you are still sending me emails, so I’m guessing there are still people looking for a guide. So, I’ve finally found time to update the guide! Here you go!


Sidenote: Do note that this guide is not complete: I’m missing what happens after the transaction is completed. If anyone would like to give me a hand in this, please do send me screenshots if you are able to! Just email them to bloodprincess@live.com. Please do not send me the QR codes – they are private and meant for you only.


First, go to http://www.usj.co.jp/ticket/. Note that this guide is only telling you HOW to purchase. Please already be sure of which passes you wish to purchase. Information can be found on the English version of the USJ website on types of Express passes.

Also, a short disclaimer here – the passes tend to change from time to time, so at the time of writing the passes may cost differently / have a different package from when you are reading this. At this point in time, the express pass allows you to purchase advance reservations to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as well as book a timeslot to take the ride. This cuts the queue down considerably, as when I went, the queue was 200 minutes long! No joke – the pass saved my life. Please read up on the different various passes before you decide which you want to purchase. If you’re confused, drop me a comment I’d try to help!


PRE REQUISITE:
You will need the following:

  • To know the date you are going (this date cannot be changed)
  • To know which Express Pass you wish to purchase and if you wish to purchase Studio Pass as well (I would recommend to do so as it doesn’t cost much more and it saves the queue and hassle, especially if you can’t speak the language)
  • Credit Card – this doesn’t have to be a Japanese Credit Card. I’ve heard a normal VISA/MASTERCARD will do. Not sure if Debit Card is accepted but I suppose it should be
  • To know how many people are going with you, and if they will need passes as well (Express Passes only allow 1 person to enter per pass, so you cannot share passes. Buying passes at 2 different dates may result in different entry times for Wizarding World of Harry Potter).

Okay, now that you have all that information with you, we can start.\


WHAT IS STUDIO PASS AND EXPRESS PASS

Studio Passes are basically your entry tickets – they do not cover anything besides the entrance fee. They can be purchased both online as well as in Japan, however if you are purchasing Express Passes online, I would recommend you to get the Studio Passes as well. The reason being that you save the queuing for purchase at USJ, and also you save the hassle figuring out where you can go to purchase, and if there will be a language barrier.

Express Passes are basically “jump queue” passes. There are various types of Express Passes, which gives you priority queuing in various types of rides. Each Express Pass is only valid for 1 use per ride stated, and is not tagged to anyone in particular. A staff will scan your QR code upon entry into the priority queue. Express Passes can also be bought at the park itself, but are usually pretty quick to sell out (I’ve heard Japanese queue way early in the morning to rush in for Express passes). The Express Pass can also save your queuing time, leaving you time to enjoy the other facilities. For example, a queue at HP Forbidden Journey ride took me less than 10 minutes (constant walking – the queue was not standstill at any point), while the normal queue was estimated at 200 minutes during my trip in April 2015.

Also, if you are into the Harry Potter area, take note that USJ does warn tourists that if the area is too packed, they may restrict entrance. So if that’s your highlight, Express Pass is your answer.

To find out more about Express Passes, you can read up on Express 3,5, 7 here (http://www.usj.co.jp/e/ticket/). Of course, there are more than just these options, but those are available in the Japanese version only. Most foreigners go with Express Pass 5 or 7, depending on the rides that you want to take.


STEP 1:new1

This is the main page you’ll purchase from. On the right you’d see the box with a magnifying glass icon. Below it are 4 boxes. These 4 boxes allow you to (in respective order), purchase Studio Pass, Annual Pass, Express Pass and Others.

For simplicity sake, I am splitting this guide into 3 different parts – you will understand as you go along. But before we dive deep into the guide, first some simple explanations.


GUIDES:

Purchasing Studio and Express Pass In Advance ONLINE

[UPDATE 24.03.2015 : USJ HAS REVAMPED THEIR PURCHASING SYSTEM. THE BELOW STEPS ARE NO LONGER APPLICABLE (damnit). PLEASE USE THE UPDATED GUIDE here]

While doing research on purchasing USJ passes and express passes, I found out that you can purchase USJ Studio Passes and more importantly, EXPRESS PASSES online! At not much of an additional cost!

There are several types of receiving methods that you’d need to know in order to purchase these passes.

  • Park Exchange – purchase online, exchange your passes at the park. Problem is you may still have to queue, and you can’t purchase express passes via this method.
  • Direct In – basically purchasing online, and print it out at home. That would be equivalent to the entrance ticket. Express passes can also be purchased the same way, and a QR code will be provided for scanning. You can save a soft copy on your phone and print out a copy just in case. Do note that it’s advisable to save a copy on your phone and not save the address bar, as there is a chance that you may not be able to surf the net while at the entrance, and the QR codes would not load.
  • Courier – basically couriering it to your house. At an additional courier cost unless you spend Y20,000 or more in a single transaction.
  • Collection at Lawson – purchase the tickets at Lawson.com and collect it personally at a Lawson counter.

I will provide further explanation below.

Personally, the method I chose was Direct In, because it was the most seamless, and I didn’t want to have to worry about not being able to collect due to queues, or not being able to correctly express myself at the Lawson counters. I also didn’t want to courier it because I was worried it may get stuck in the mail! And that would have been a waste of a lot of money! So I decided that for my own safety and peace of mind, I would go ahead with the Direct In option.

So here’s how you do it!

[UPDATE 24.03.2015 : USJ HAS REVAMPED THEIR PURCHASING SYSTEM. THE BELOW STEPS ARE NO LONGER APPLICABLE (damnit). PLEASE USE THE UPDATED GUIDE here]

Step 1

First, enter the website at:http://www.usj.co.jp/ticket/webticket/?area=w_h_epass. Here, there are basic disclaimers and notifications, basically:

  • Depending the type of ticket, there are those that receive methods are determined in advance . There may not be an option to select a direct -ins or courier .
  • For cancellation after ticket purchase: for all tickets purchased on or after April 23, 2014, there is no cancellation option. Once you are certain, scroll down and click on the ORANGE button. The Blue button is for purchase via Lawson.0

Step 2

2

Select the date you would like to visit. Do note that you can only purchase up to 3 months (e.g as of today 5th March, you will only be able to purchase up to 5th May)

Green stars refer to Musical Starlight Parade (I’m unsure if its referring to availability of booking or whether no star means that it doesn’t operate on that day)

Step 3

3

Select the type of pass you would like to purchase. Here, you can decide on whether you want to purchase the Studio Pass (entrance) alone, or with the Express Pass, or purely the Express Pass without the Studio Pass.

The first table denotes the many different types of Studio Passes – some of them seasonal and some not, so please double check that the Katakana is the same for the seasonal passes (sometimes there are special passes on special dates).

The amount in the brackets denote the amount AFTER GST, which is what you will be paying.

Select the orange button on the pass you wish to purchase. In this example, I will be selecting the first option: 1 day studio pass.

If you wish to purchase just the express pass without the studio pass, ignore the top part of the page, and simply scroll to the bottom. You will see a greenish table. This denotes the different types of passes. The Japanese and its corresponding English names for the passes are below.

capcap2Simply select the pass that you would want to purchase. (please note that if you’re doing this, the rest of the steps I’ve provided below may be a little different, but it shouldn’t be hard to figure out)

Step 4

4

Once the pass has been selected, you will reach this screen, which basically is asking you which method you would prefer. Select the option you prefer (I selected Direct In), and click the orange button to go to the next step.

Options:

ダイレクトイン – Direct In

Entrance Ticket – Since appears ticket screen with QR code after the purchase is complete, please print the completion screen. The system will generate 1 per person, and you can use it as admission by holding the QR code portion in authentication machine at the entrance gate.

 Purchase period: up to 2 days before the admission date, and admission day

Express Pass –  After the purchase is complete of Universal Express ® · Pass, e ticket (QR code) will be issued. When you use the pass at an attraction, please present your QR code to the responsible crew at attraction entrance. You can also print the e-ticket (QR code) screen in your home, please bring the day to park. If you want to buy for your family and friends collectively, after purchase, please save all QR codes and designate each code to a fixed person. Please note that only 1 QR code can be used per person.

 Admission period: up to 2 days before the admission date, and admission day

宅配 – Courier

In about 4-6 days before the admission date, we will deliver to your registered address. Delivery date might be around by region. In addition, depending on the type of ticket you may delivery date is different.

At a time of your purchase, postage ¥ 450 (tax included) is required. In a single purchase, shipping will be free of charge with a purchase of a total of ¥ 20,000 (including tax).

パーク引き換え – Park Admission

Receive your purchased ticket at the ticket booth.
(If the ticket booth is congested, there are times where you will have to wait)

Bring the admission day, the credit card that was used to settle in the WEB ticket store at the ticket booth.

Purchase period: up to 2 days before the admission date

Step 5

5

Select the quantity you would wish to purchase based on the prices below. The first row would be adult price, second is child price, and third is for seniors. To double confirm, you can double check the “after tax” prices on step 4 and the screen below. Select amount and click “Next”.

Step 6:

6

Next step, select any additional express passes that you may need. For this, please use google translate to see the different types of express passes, as it is too exhaustive to translate the many many many many options they provide.

If you see the red text as shown below, it means that the pass either is not available for the day you have selected, or is completely sold out.  Select the pass that you want, and click the yellow button at the bottom again. (Not the 2 buttons on top). In this scenario I clicked on Express Pass 5.

Step 7:

7

In this step, they are asking you to select the time you would like to enter Wizarding World of Harry Potter zone. This is the time that you designate to cut the queue, meaning that if you enter at this time range you would not be required to queue. It’s like a FAST Pass. Do note that anytime out of this if you do try to enter you would have to queue the normal queue.

To find out more about the timings, click the button on the RIGHT of the dropdown menu.

1

Example: if you select in the above drop down menu “10:30am ~ 11am”, you are selecting the option to enter the Harry Potter area between 10:30 am to 11am, and that you will be present to queue for the Harry Potter – Journey of the Forbidden ride between 10:45am to 11am. That is the specified time you have chosen. Any time out of this, your pass will be invalid and you would have to queue at the normal queue instead of the express queue.

However, this does NOT mean that you have to exit the Harry Potter area by 11am. You are free to explore as long as you want as long as you reach the EXPRESS QUEUE within the time that you have selected. When you exit, that’s your choice. But do note that if you do intend to return later, you would have to re-queue in the normal queue.

After you’ve selected the time you want, click on “次へ” to go to the next step.

Step 8:

8

This is basically a summary – you can change the amount of passes you want here. I’ve allowed google to translate it automatically so you can have a brief summary of what I’ve purchased.

If you have verified that your pass is correct, you will need to click on the “同意する ” below as shown. This is basically an “I agree” to the terms and conditions.

8b

Then, click on the red button to register yourself as a Universal Club Member (you will need to do this in order to complete your purchase).

 Step 9:

9

Once again, I’m turning on google translate to show you how to fill in the fields. For address, just fill in your hotel address – it doesn’t really matter as it won’t be sent there anyway. The Postal code is usually the 7 digit number “XXX-XXXX”. E.g Address is 1-1-34 Hiro’oka, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa 920-0031, the postal code will be 9200031.

For phone number, you can either give your hotel number or a Japanese friend’s number. The rest of the fields you can fill in pretty straightforwardly. For your phonetic name, you can either directly translate it or simply use an online translator like the one here: http://www.sljfaq.org/cgi/e2k.cgi

After you’re done, click the yellow button in the middle – not the one at the side.

Step 10:

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At this verify page, check a last time that your purchase is correct. Click on the MIDDLE BUTTON (with the CLUB word) to continue. Now, your Universal Club membership is completed.

Step 11:

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At this step, you enter your credit card details. So far I have used a non-Japanese credit card without any issues, so I doubt anyone will have an issue here.

Select the large PINK box, and a credit card payment portion will drop out. Fill in the necessary card details:

12

The red text basically says that you cannot get a refund if you were to cancel.

The content in the red BOX is to ask you to confirm that you have purchased correctly:

  1. Number of passes is correct?
  2. Number of adults and children is correct?
  3. Date of admission is correct?

If so, tick all 3, and press submit. If your card is successfully charged, you will be brought to a final page.

Step 12:

13

You will then see this page. (note yours may be a bit different as mine is from retrieving a previous sale.)

The first yellow button will open a PDF file, where you can print all the studio passes.

The bottom 2 buttons will produce the Express Pass QR tickets (1 ticket per person). In this scenario, I purchased 2 Express Passes. The URL provided at the side can also be saved on smartphones to use on that day, though it is advisable to take a screenshot or printout along in case the WIFI doesn’t load.

Just print all these things, and you’re done!

JUST IN CASE:

In case you wish to come back at a later date to print, simply follow the below steps. From the USJ page, click on the button with the word CLUB on it. That is the login page for Universal Club members.

a1

Here, sign in with the credentials you earlier registered (using the left side. The right side is for registration).

a2

Click on the grey button at the right side of the screen (near the bottom).

a3

After clicking that, you will be sent here.Simply click on the blue button to reinvoke the printing documents page above.

a4

I hope this helps anyone trying to purchase Express Passes out of Japan in advance 😀 I actually intended to write this because I realised that there are a lot of people searching for an English guide like this. Hope this helps anyone! Do let me know if there is anything I missed, and I’ll try to fill it in!