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Universal Studios Japan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan entrance in 2006
LocationKonohana-ku, Osaka, Japan
Coordinates34°39′53″N 135°25′59″E / 34.66472°N 135.43306°E / 34.66472; 135.43306
StatusOperating
Opened31 March 2001; 23 years ago (2001-03-31)
OwnerUSJ LLC
(Universal Destinations & Experiences)
(wholly owned by NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast)[1]
Operated byUSJ LLC
Universal Destinations & Experiences
ThemeShow business and Universal entertainment
Attendance14.9 million (2017)[2]
Area54 ha (108 acres)
Attractions
Roller coasters5
Websitewww.usj.co.jp/e/

Universal Studios Japan (ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン) is a theme park located in Osaka, Japan. Opened on March 31, 2001, it is one of six Universal Studios theme parks worldwide and was the first to open outside the United States. The park is owned and operated by USJ LLC,[3] a wholly owned subsidiary of NBCUniversal.[4] The park is similar in layout to Universal Studios Florida and contains selected attractions from both Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood, in addition to a small number of unique attractions.

Over 11 million guests visited the park in its opening year, making it the fastest theme park to reach the 10 million guest milestone at the time. In 2022, USJ hosted 12.3 million visitors, making it the third-most visited theme park in the world behind Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, and the most visited theme park in Asia.[5]

History

Evolution of Comcast NBCUniversal
Comcast logo since 2024
NBCUniversal logo since 2011
1912Universal Pictures is founded
1926NBC is founded
1928Walter Lantz Productions is established
1943MCA Inc. establishes Revue Studios (later Universal Television)
1953NBC begins first compatible color broadcasts, preceding other networks by nine years
1956NBC's first peacock logo debuts
1963American Cable Systems is founded
1964Universal Studios Hollywood opens
1967NBC broadcasts the first Super Bowl
1968American Cable Systems rebrands to Comcast
1972Comcast began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
1975Universal releases Jaws
1980PolyGram renames Casablanca Record & Filmworks to PolyGram Pictures
MCA Videocassette‚ Inc. (Later Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is established
1982Universal releases E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
1984Walter Lantz Productions' assets are sold to Universal
Telemundo is founded
1985Universal releases Back to the Future
1986General Electric buys RCA for $6.4 billion, including NBC and a stake in A&E
1989NBC relaunches Tempo Television as CNBC
1990Universal Studios Florida opens
Law & Order premieres on NBC
Sky Television and British Satellite Broadcasting merge to form British Sky Broadcasting
Universal Cartoon Studios (later Universal Animation Studios) is established
1993Universal releases Jurassic Park
1994DreamWorks Animation is founded
1996NBC and Microsoft replace America's Talking with MSNBC
1997Barry Diller purchases Universal's domestic television assets
1998Seagram acquires PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Universal Television is renamed Studios USA Television
1999PolyGram Filmed Entertainment is folded into Universal Pictures
Universal Studios Florida expands to become Universal Orlando Resort
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premieres on NBC
2001Grand opening of Universal Studios Japan
Universal releases The Fast and the Furious
Vivendi purchases Studios USA
2002NBC acquires Telemundo and Bravo
Studios USA assets are folded into Universal
Focus Features is formed
Comcast acquires AT&T Broadband for $44.5 billion
2003Universal becomes the first studio with five summer releases breaking the $100 million mark
2004GE and Vivendi merge NBC and Universal into NBCUniversal
2005The Office premieres on NBC
Comcast sets up a joint-venture with PBS, Sesame Workshop & HIT Entertainment to form PBS Kids Sprout
Comcast & Time Warner Cable jointly acquire Adelphia Cable assets for $17.6 billion
2006USA Network begins 13-year streak as #1 cable network in total viewers
2007Illumination is founded
2010Universal releases Illumination's first film Despicable Me
2011Vivendi divested in NBCU; Comcast buys 51% of NBCU from GE, turning it into a limited liability company
NBCUniversal Archives is founded
2012Universal celebrates its 100th anniversary
NBCUniversal divests its A&E Networks minority stake
2013Comcast buys GE's remaining 49% of NBCU
Comcast/NBCU assumes full ownership of Sprout
2014Comcast attempts to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion
NBCUniversal reaches a new long-term deal with WWE
2016NBCU acquires DreamWorks Animation
2017Sprout relaunches as Universal Kids
2018Comcast acquires Sky after a heated bidding war with 21st Century Fox
2019NBCU acquires Cineo Lighting
2020NBCU launches Peacock
2021Grand opening of Universal Beijing Resort
2023The Super Mario Bros. Movie becomes Illumination's highest-grossing film

In December 1992, Osaka Universal Planning Inc. was established in Minato-ku, Osaka to plan and research for the development and construction of a large-scale theme park in Japan. In February 1996, the master agreement regarding planning, construction and operation of the Universal Studios Japan theme park was concluded with American corporation MCA Inc. Osaka Universal Planning Inc. was also renamed USJ Co., Ltd.[6] Licensing agreements regarding the planning, construction and operation of Universal Studios Japan was concluded with the Universal Group in 1998 and later that year, construction of the theme park officially began. The park opened on March 31, 2001.[6]

Lands and attractions

The park covers 54 hectares (130 acres).[7]

The attractions are spread across ten different areas.[8] The ninth area, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, opened on 15 July 2014 with its flagship attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The area and its attractions were modeled after its previous iterations at Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.[9] Its tenth area, Super Nintendo World, opened after several delays on 18 March 2021.[10]

Hollywood

Based on the neighborhood of Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Cinema 4-D Theater
The former E.T. Adventure
Name Opened Description
Cinema 4-D Theater 2003 A 4D theater attraction that currently shows Shrek's 4-D Adventure or Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic.
Sing on Tour 2019 A musical theatre attraction based on Illumination's Sing film. The building's exterior is themed as the "Illumination Theater".
Universal Monsters Live Rock and Roll Show 2001 A live musical revue stage show based on the Universal Monsters.
Playing with Curious George 2018 A show attraction based on Curious George.
Hollywood Dream – The Ride 2007 A steel roller coaster that features a sound system that allows the riders to choose what ride music they wish to listen to.
Space Fantasy – The Ride 2010 An indoor spinning roller coaster with a space theme, containing many special effects.
Mario Cafe & Store 2020 Originally themed as "Schwab's Pharmacy", the store offers themed food and an exclusive line of "Whose Cap?"-branded Mario merchandise.[11]

New York City

Based on the city of New York City, New York.

Name Opened Description
Detective Conan 4-D Live Show ~Jewel Under The Starry Sky~ 2024 A 3D/live-action show based on Case Closed.

San Francisco

Based on the city of San Francisco, California.

Minion Park

An area inspired by Illumination's Despicable Me franchise. It opened in March 2017.

Name Opened Description
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem 2017 A computer-animated simulator ride featuring the characters from Despicable Me movie franchise.
Freeze Ray Sliders 2018 A flat ride featuring spinning cars, centering on the Minions cooling off the Minion Park Fountain with Gru's freeze ray.

Jurassic Park

Inspired by Steven Spielberg's blockbuster film franchise of the same name.

Name Opened Description
Jurassic Park: The Ride 2001 A water-based amusement ride based on Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park and Michael Crichton's novel of the same name.
The Flying Dinosaur 2016 A flying roller coaster that holds the record for being the most expensive roller coaster ever manufactured by B&M.

Amity Village

Inspired by Steven Spielberg's Jaws film.

Name Opened Description
Jaws 2001 A scenic boat ride with special effects and animatronics of the titular shark.

Universal Wonderland

Universal Wonderland is a section aimed at children and families. Opened in March 2012, it contains three themed sub-zones including Snoopy Studios, Hello Kitty's Fashion Avenue, and Sesame Street Fun Zone.

Snoopy Studios

Based on the Peanuts comic strip. Snoopy Studios was originally its own standalone area, opening with the park in April 2001 before becoming part of Universal Wonderland in 2012.

Name Opened Description
The Flying Snoopy 2012 An aerial carousel ride with Snoopy-themed cars.
Snoopy's Sound Stage Adventure 2001 An indoor playground attraction themed to a film set.

Hello Kitty's Fashion Avenue

Themed to Sanrio's Hello Kitty franchise.

Name Opened Description
Hello Kitty's Cupcake Dream 2012 A Balloon Race ride with cars themed to different cupcakes.
Hello Kitty's Ribbon Collection 2012 A themed indoor meet-and-greet with Hello Kitty.

Sesame Street Fun Zone

Based on the children's television series Sesame Street. It is split into three areas - "Sesame Street Plaza", "Sesame Central Park" and "Elmo's Imagination Playland".

Name Opened Description
Abby's Magical Party 2012 An indoor play area filled with larges spheres and stars.
Abby's Magical Tree 2012 An indoor rope-climbing attraction themed to a tree.
Bert and Ernie's Wonder: The Sea 2012 An indoor ball pit themed to Bert and Ernie's bathroom.
Big Bird's Big Top Circus 2012 A carousel ride with Sesame Street themed animals and characters. Formerly the "Magical Oz Go-Round", it was the only attraction from the "Land of Oz" area to be repurposed for Universal Wonderland.
Big Bird's Big Nest 2012 A large climbing rope attraction.
Cookie Monster Slide 2012 A slide with Cookie Monster's tongue as the slide.
Elmo's Bubble Bubble 2012 A small log flume-like ride for children.
Elmo's Go Go Skateboard 2015 A Rockin' Tug ride that looks like Elmo's skateboard.
Elmo's Little Drive 2012 A driving school attraction with Elmo-themed cars, aimed for young children.
Ernie's Rubber Duckie Race 2012 Guests race rubber duckies down a small river of water. Originally known as "Central Park Duckie Race".
Grover's Construction Company 2012 An indoor play area themed to water pipes.
Moppy's Balloon Trip 2015 A high tower ride that affords a view of the area.
Moppy's Lucky Dance Party 2012 A live interactive show themed to Universal Studios Japan's exclusive "Moppy" Sesame Street character.
Sesame's Big Drive 2012 A driving school attraction with Sesame Street-themed cars.
Water Garden 2012 A water fountain play area. Originally known as "Central Park Springs".

WaterWorld

Based on Universal Pictures' 1995 film of the same name.

Name Opened Description
Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular 2001 (original version)
2018 (current version)
A live water stunt show showcasing many special effects.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Based on Warner Bros Discovery's Wizarding World franchise.

Name Opened Description
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 2014 A motion-based dark ride that takes guests through scenes inspired by the Harry Potter books and films.
Flight of the Hippogriff 2014 A junior roller coaster based on the creature featured in the books.

Super Nintendo World

Based on several Nintendo franchises, focusing on Super Mario and its Yoshi spin-off series. An expansion themed to the Donkey Kong Country spin-off series is under construction.

Name Opened Description
Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge 2021 An augmented reality-type dark ride attraction based on the Mario Kart series.[12]
Yoshi's Adventure 2021 An omnimover attraction where guests board a Yoshi and ride around Super Nintendo World.[13]
Power-Up Band Key Challenges 2021 Several interactive mini-attractions where guests can interact with Mario enemies and Bowser Jr. These require separately sold Power-Up Bands.
Kinopio's Cafe 2021 A restaurant themed to the inside of a Toad House.[14]
Yoshi's Snack Island 2021 A quick-service location that serves Yoshi-themed drinks and snacks.[15]
Pit Stop Popcorn 2021 A quick-service location that serves flavored popcorn and themed popcorn containers.[16]
1-Up Factory 2021 A merchandise store themed to the inside of a factory.[17]
Mine-Cart Madness 2024 A roller coaster themed to the Donkey Kong franchise.[18]

Seasonal overlays

The park is consistently installing seasonal attraction and show overlays. Some include Halloween Horror Nights, Christmas, Easter, Summer, and Cool Japan.[19] The park's "Cool Japan" seasonal attractions have been based on popular Japanese anime and video game franchises, including: Sailor Moon, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Attack on Titan, One Piece, Detective Conan, Lupin III, Monster Hunter, and Final Fantasy.[20]

Former attractions

Name Opened Closed Description
Abby's Magical Garden 2012 2014 Outdoor play area. It was removed to make way for Moppy's Balloon Trip.
Animal Actors Stage 2001 2006 A stageshow featuring multiple animals performing stunts and tricks. It was rethemed to Toto & Friends in 2006.
Animation Celebration 2001 2017 A show attraction.[21] It was closed to make way for another show – Playing with Curious George.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man - The Ride 2004 2024 A 3D dark ride based on Marvel's Spider-Man. In May 2023, the park announced the attraction would be closing. The park ran a "Spider-Man The Ride - Final Campaign" from July 4, 2023, until the ride closed exactly twenty years after it first opened at the park on January 22, 2024.[22][23]
Backdraft 2001 2020 A special effects attraction based on the Universal film of the same name. Temporarily closed in September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2023 the park announced it had no intentions to reopen the attraction.[24][25]
Back to the Future – The Ride 2001 2016 A simulator ride based on the franchise of the same name. It closed to make way for Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
Big Bird's Climbing Nest 2012 2014 Outdoor jungle gym. It was removed to make way for Elmo's Go Go Skateboard.
E.T. Adventure 2001 2009 An indoor dark ride attraction based on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It closed to make way for Space Fantasy – The Ride.
Linus' Green Department 2001 2001 A maze attraction. Removed to expand Peppermint Patty's Stunt Slide.
Magical Starlight Parade 2009 2016
Monster Make-Up 2001 2003 A live show attraction based on Universal Studios Florida's version of the show.
Motion Picture Magic 2001 2002 A live show attraction. It was hosted by director Steven Spielberg, and was originally designed by experience designer Bob Rogers and the design team BRC Imagination Arts,[26] provided a tribute to the Universal Studios brand of motion pictures. During the show, the theater transformed into a multi-screen presentation and when the show ended, the main screen raised to present a real motion picture set in which the audience would cross through as they continued through the attraction show building.[27] After closure, the building was turned into the 4D Theater, and plays Shrek 4-D and Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic.
Peppermint Patty's Stunt Slide 2001 2013 A water slide complex located within the Snoopy Studios area. It originally was a two-slide complex before expanding to four slides in 2002. It was closed in 2013 and demolished to make way for attractions in "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter".[28]
Pig-Pen's Prop Plaza 2001 2011 A sub-section of the Snoopy Playland area. Removed to make way for new attractions in the Universal Wonderland expansion.
Snoopy's Great Race 2001 2020 An indoor roller coaster. It did not reopen after the initial COVID-19 closure in February 2020, and was removed from the park's website in March 2021.
T2-3D: Battle Across Time 2001 2020 A 3D/live-action show based on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Temporarily closed in September 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2023 the park announced it had no intentions to reopen the attraction.[24][25]

Western

The Western Area, and with it, The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show and the Animal Actors Stage show, were revamped to become Land of Oz in 2006. This involved completely re-theming two live shows, one restaurant and a number of retail facilities.

Name Opened Closed Description
The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show 2001 2006 A stunt show based upon a wide variety of Universal's Western films. Located in the Western Town section of the park, the show featured several cowboy-themed actors surviving death-defying stunts, shootings and explosions.[29][30] The show closed in 2006 and has since been replaced by Wicked.

Land of Oz

The Western Area was replaced for 2006 with an area based on L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz book series.

The land closed in February 2011 to make way for Universal Wonderland.

Name Opened Closed Description
Wicked 2006 2011 An abbreviated one-act version of the musical, presented in Japanese. It closed in January 2011, a month prior to the land's closure.
Toto & Friends 2006 2011 An animal trick show, featuring dogs, birds and other trained animals.
Magical Oz-Go-Round 2006 2011 An Oz-themed carousel. This ride was retained during the Universal Wonderland transformation and was rethemed as Big Bird's Big Top Circus.

Parades

Universal's "Festa de Parade" 2018 Halloween parade

The park has held a variety of seasonal parades throughout the past two decades, including Festa de Parade, Universal Summer Parade – We Are One, and Minion Hacha-Mecha Christmas Party Parade.[31][32][33]

Universal Studios Japan currently offers the nighttime Universal Spectacle Night Parade. This parade premiered on 17 May 2018, and features floats, performers, and characters based on the Harry Potter, Transformers, Jurassic World, and Despicable Me franchises.[34]

The park also offers a daily daytime parade, titled No limit! Parade. The parade held its first preview performance on 27 February 2023, and officially premiered on 1 March 2023. It features floats, characters, and performers based on Hello Kitty, Peanuts, Despicable Me, Sesame Street, Sing, Mario Kart, and Pokémon.[35] While Mario and Pikachu appeared on Universal's No Limit!-marketing float at the Midosuji Autum Party in November 2022, the No limit! Parade is the first time these franchises have appeared within a Universal Studios parade.[36]

Characters

Much like with the previous Universal parks, USJ has characters both from Universal and third-party companies. USJ has the Japanese license to use the Sesame Street, Peanuts and Sanrio characters, and alongside many others.

Awards

In 2011, USJ's Christmas tree was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the most illuminated Christmas tree in the world having 260,498 lights.[37]

  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – The Ride
    • 2001 Screamscape Ultimate No.1 Favorite Overall Non-Coaster Thrill Ride[38]
    • 2002 Theme Park Insider World Best Theme Park Attraction[39]
  • Animation Celebration
    • 2002 THEA Award (presented by TEA) WINNER in Attraction[40]
  • Peter Pan's Neverland
    • 2007 THEA Award (presented by TEA) WINNER in Event Spectacular[41]
  • The Gift of Angels
    • 2009 Big E Award, Best Overall Production (presented by IIAPA) WINNER in the category "Best Overall Production, More Than $2 Million"[42]
  • Hollywood Dreams Parade
    • 2009 Big E Award (presented by IIAPA): Honorable Mention in the category "Best Overall Production, More Than $2 Million"[43]
  • Space Fantasy – The Ride
    • 2011 THEA Award (presented by TEA) winner in Outstanding Achievement[40]

Attendance

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
8,000,000[44] 8,160,000[45] 8,500,000[46] 9,700,000[47] 10,100,000[48] 11,800,000[49] 13,900,000[50] 14,500,000[51] 14,935,000[52] 14,300,000[53]
2019 2020 2021 Worldwide rank (2019)
14,500,000[54] 4,901,000[55] 5,500,000[56] 5

Official hotels

Hotel Kintetsu Universal City (left) and Hotel Keihan Universal Tower (right)

There are five official hotels at or near the park:

Incidents and accidents

In November 2004, a 35-year-old woman from Osaka Prefecture suffered nerve damage in her right wrist, affecting the use of two of her fingers. This occurred when her hand got stuck in a safety bar of the E.T. Adventure attraction as an employee pulled it down to secure it.[57]

The Yoshi's Adventure attraction suffered two accidents in late 2021, with a Goomba stack animatronic falling onto the ride during operation on August 12, 2021,[58] and a fire starting in one of the ride's indoor areas on November 23, 2021. This caused everyone to evacuate from the ride and the rest of the park.[59] Neither accidents led to any park guest injuries.

In October 2022, an employee at the amusement park found human bones in shrubbery along a road west of the premises.[60]

See also

References

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