No need to queue with special pass at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.
Ever fantasized about spending a day at a major global theme park without having to queue or get lost amidst the sprawling labyrinth of breathtaking rides and other attractions?
Add unlimited refreshments, professional photographs and a private guide and you have the VIP Experience at Universal Studios Japan (USJ) in Osaka. In September, I excitedly hung around my neck the VIP pass that grants me free access to all attractions as my private VIP Experience tour guide Roberto greeted me with a beaming smile and whisked me to the luxuriously plush VIP lounge.
Some families were already there being briefed by guides as they sipped complimentary cool drinks and coffee among colorful movie posters, comfy sofas and spectacular views of USJ’s waterways, attractions and excited visitors.
Roberto explained everything, offered suggestions and then wrote a flexible bespoke schedule based on his expert advice and my preferences—I was feeling like a VIP even before the tour started.
It was a humid morning, and the park was bustling with energy. Keeping my comfort in mind, Roberto stressed to me that I should pace myself, take breaks, skip or repeat rides and take photos at any time.
All-Access to Attractions
First was The Flying Dinosaur. As with all stops, my VIP pass allowed me to walk briskly past dozens of visitors straight to the front. A crazy, out-of-control Pteranodon seized me from behind and pulled me high into the sky to swing me 360 degrees, with nothing between me and the ground! The white-knuckle ride was exhilarating, to say the least. The loud screams and raised hands from start to finish said it all.
Similarly, Hollywood Dream—The Ride was like flying through the sky, with background music, an unbelievable thrill for adrenaline junkies.
After all the excitement, I was ready to relax—in San Francisco! USJ has recreated Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown. Located just off the lagoon, the area smells of fresh sea air and features Lombard’s Landing, where I relaxed for 90 minutes and perused the VIP restaurant’s excellent buffet of starters, mains and desserts along with soft drinks and alcohol. Thanks, Roberto, for arranging the rides before lunch!
I felt truly pampered, knowing that everything was taken care of. My favorite ride was the relatively serene Jaws. We got a good soaking as authentic-looking gunfire blew bloodied sharks out the water, and we laughed at the animated commentary. I immediately pledged to watch the movie again, some 40-plus years since its release.
Wizardry and Cuisine
We also visited WaterWorld, which is like a real movie set with acrobatic stunts, powerful boats and real actors fighting and causing mayhem with fire, guns and explosions. Getting soaked again was well worth it for the laughs and memories!
Recreated props from my favorite films included stores, barbershops, diners and classic cars from The Godfather, Rocky, The Sting and American Graffiti. We also saw such high-energy performances with movie characters, dancers, musicians and singers as the No Limit! Parade and a 30-minute stage musical of 1970s disco hits, the Universal Monsters Live: Rock and Roll Show.
After a delightful photo session at Minion Park and mind-boggling interactive 3D shelling to score coins with Mario Kart Koopa’s Challenge at Super Nintendo World, we joined the front of the long queue to meet Princess Peach. Then we braced for our last stop: the spookily atmospheric Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Strolling the winding cobblestone streets—convincingly shiny to mimic England’s ubiquitous rainfall—lined by snowcapped shops, eateries, homes and castles felt like stepping into the pages of JK Rowling’s best-selling books.
Adding down-to-earth reality was a battered blue Ford Anglia whose windscreen was smashed after colliding with a tree. A massive steam train with a cheerful bearded driver made loud hoots and whistles, enticing people to come closer. The highlight, of course, was riding Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I soared through the air past peaks, troughs, people, animals and places weird and wonderful. It felt like I was part of the wizarding world. After the ride, Roberto handed me a glass of cold, non-alcoholic Butterbeer—a deliciously refreshing caramel, butterscotch and cream soda concoction, which served as a wonderful prelude to dinner.
After a tasty spread of sashimi, quiche, salad and ice cream served with fine French Champagne, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at the VIP restaurant, I thanked Roberto and told him the VIP Experience had exceeded my expectations.
As we strolled to the exit past zombies celebrating Halloween by scaring schoolgirls, I reflected on the fact that my VIP Experience proved to be a stunning day of adventure, surprises and fun—with no queuing, wasting time or getting lost.
Universal Studios Japan (Osaka) VIP Experience Private Tour
(Eight hours, up to four people)
Price (depending on season): ¥298,000–398,000
(tax included, excludes admission ticket)
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Co-founder, Custom Media