UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
USJ Co. / Goldman Sachs
Park News - (8/14/14) According to this article the owners of Universal Studios Japan are seeking potential partnerships with three major casino groups if a law to legalize casinos is approved. They claim to be in talks with MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Group and Genting Bhd. (aka: Resorts World). This wouldn’t be to add a casino to the existing park, but would include building a new park as part of a larger resort project, with possible sites in Tokyo, Osaka and Okinawa. They also claim they are seeking a partnership with Chinese based theme park operator, Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) for possible new park projects in China and Indonesia (Jakarta).
As an interesting side note: USJ also mentions that in July the park pulled in 870,000 guests, a record number of visitors for the month, due to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
(7/7/14) Disney & More reports that owners of Universal Studios Japan are considering putting in a bid to build and operate a casino complex. One theory is that they might partner up with others to build a new second theme park concept along with a casino / resort complex on nearby Yumeshima, a man-made island about 3km away from the existing theme park. Currently Casinos are not legal, but are part of a proposal that has been submitted to the government as a way to stimulate more tourism and local investment.
(6/24/14) According to this tweeted image from Universal Studios Japan, they will open Biohazard The Real 2 this year starting on August 8th where you can arm yourself with virtual weapons and combat the Raccoon City zombie horde until your life counter runs out.
(4/16/14) Universal Studios Japan reports having had roughly 10.5 million guests during the 2013 fiscal year, up 7.7% from 2012. This is not only impressive because it is the second-highest attendance figure ever reported for the park (the best was in 2001 when the park first opened) but this was also in an “off” year for USJ, while the park was very busy constructing the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter which will open in a few months. I’d bet serious money that the park will hit an all time record attendance high by the end of the 2014 fiscal year, aided by the opening of the Wizarding World.
(2/24/14) According to this article last year’s “One Piece Premiere Show” will return to Universal Studios Japan twice in 2014. It will return first from March 8th through to May 11th and then return again sometime later in the Summer.
(2/21/14) According to the local news the operators of Universal Studios Japan are now looking into building new theme parks at new sites both in Japan as well as other nearby countries. Space at the existing Universal Studios Japan theme park is at a premium as it has been built out to nearly the limit, and being surrounding by many large industrial buildings and facories make expansion of the current site extremely difficult.
USJ Co. is apparently already looking at another site elsewhere in Japan, away from the current Osaka / Kansai region, as well as the Kanto region where the Tokyo Disney Resort is located. If they build a new park in Japan they are likely looking to the Tohoku region or Kyushu region or Okinawa Prefecture.
Internationally they may also be looking at three large cities: Taipei in Taiwan, Jakarta in Indonesia and Mumbai in India.
(2/2/14) Universal Studios Japan opened a new Monster Hunter Real 2014 exhibit over the weekend, themed to the Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate video game on Nintendo 3DS. The display, featuring huge scale size monster statues, an animatronic Tigrex and Rathalos, as well as new themed food items, will remain open through May 11th. Click over to visit NintendoLife to see a few pictures.
(12/15/13) According to Variety, Universal Studios Japan has just received a $250 million injection of cash from PAG, a Hong Kong based private investment firm. The cash will help launch the new Harry Potter themed land as well as “recapitalizing the company”.
Also new to the park right now is the new SMTOWN Hologram V-Theater that just opened inside the theme park on Friday for a limited run through to February 16th, 2014.
” The hologram performances will include some of the most beloved ones of SM artists, such as TVXQ!’s “Keep Your Head Down,” Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry,” Girl’s Generation’s “I Got A Boy,” SHINee’s “Lucifer” and EXO’s “Wolf” along with Universal Stuidos’ popular characters Elmo and Cookie Monster.”
(11/28/13) Universal Studios Japan has confirmed that they will raise their ticket price twice in 2014. The first time will be in January 27th, raising the adult ticket price to ¥6,790 and to ¥4,750 for children. Unfortunately the overall cost of admission will go up once again on April 1 when the local “consumption tax” is increased from 5% to 8%.
(7/22/13) A great set of photos showing off the new “Biohazard The Real” that just opened at Universal Studios Japan can be found at Bloody-Disgusting this week. The guns are quite interesting devices, with a pistol attached by a cable to what almost looks like a blood-pressure cuff attached to your entire forearm, that also has a digital display to show you how much life you have left before you too are infected. There is also a great TV ad for the attraction as well.
(7/2/13) I wasn't entirely sure of the dates before, but the special "Resident Evil The Real" (aka: Biohazard: Live!) shoot 'em up walk-through Zombie haunt will take place at Universal Studios Japan from July 19th through to November 10th, 2013. Sounds like a blast... I only hope they release some video footage / gun cam footage from the attraction as I am very curious to see how it all works.
(6/17/13) Theme Park University takes a look at the new Resident Evil themed shoot-em-up attraction at Universal Studios Japan where guests are let loose inside the park’s Palace Theater with an airsoft gun to shoot at live zombies who are after them. The idea seems based on a couple of similar style attractions set up in the UK. Follow the link to read more.
(5/30/13) Universal Studios Japan will add a new Resident Evil Live (aka: Biohazard Live) attraction into the park for a limited time this year where guests will be able to shoot the zombies using the same style “practice guns” used by the Japanese police and military. The attraction will be set up inside the Palace Theater. So far I didn’t see anything about this on the official Universal Japan website yet, but this article mentions it will open sometime in July.
Spring 2014 - Monster Hunter: The Real 2014 - (9/3/13) According to this article Universal Studios Japan will feature a new Monster Hunter themed temporary attraction in the park in Spring 2014 to be called Monster Hunter: The Real 2014.
Summer 2014 - Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Now Open - (7/17/14) The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has now opened in Universal Studios Japan, and a great photo trip report has been posted to ThemeparX giving us our first look inside the new land.
(7/4/14) The Theme Park Guy dropped by Universal Studios Japan in late June to take some pictures all around the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, set to open to the public just a few days from now.
(6/16/14) According to a post at Disney & More, the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening in Japan this July has a few interesting new features not found at the original in Orlando. As we’ve seen in some of the promotional pictures, they have created Black Lake alongside Hogwarts Castle, which is said to be inhabited by real owls, a themed restroom and more. Make the jump to read all the details.
(4/22/14) Universal Studios Japan has announced that the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter area will be ready to open to park guests on July 15, 2014. With Diagon Alley expansion opening at Universal Orlando this summer as well, 2014 is going to certainly go down in the industry record books as the year of Harry Potter.
The park has already launched a Wizarding World of Harry Potter mini-sitee. On a related note, SnitchSeeker.com has reported that author J.K. Rowling will be attending the grand opening event in Japan as well.
(1/14/14) A great video showing off the construction all around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Japan was posted to YouTube about a month ago. Check it out below.
(1/9/14) The latest construction update on the Japanese Wizarding World of Harry Potter comes from ThemeparX this week. Most of the upper scaffolding that was surrounding the spires of Hogwarts castle have now been taken down.
(12/4/13) ThemeparX takes a look at the latest progress made to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan.
(12/2/13) According to this report the local “loop trains” on Osaka’s railways have been wrapped in Wizarding World of Harry Potter themeing ahead of the planned Summer 2014 grand opening.
(11/26/13) New pictures showing off the progress of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan can be found at ThemeparX this week.
(3/11/13) A few new pictures, including some aerial shots, show off the progress on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter under construction at Universal Studios Japan. Check them out over at TheThemeParkGuy. From what I can tell, this is an exact replica of the building shape used in Orlando. Based on the rest of the plot of land to be built upon, guests will also approach Hogwarts Castle from the exact same direct as they do in Orlando when passing through the town of Hogsmeade and turn that corner to get that awe-inspiring view of Hogwarts for the first time.
(1/1/13) They don’t mess around in Japan… because the massive building that will be themed as Hogwarts castles for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has already risen high into the sky. Check out the latest construction pictures posted to TheThemeParkGuy.
(5/14/12) According to this article, which features of picture of the Phelps twins at the Wizarding World announcement in Japan, the addition of the new Harry Potter themed land to Universal Studios Japan will increase the theme park’s footprint by one fifth. Taking that for what it’s worth, I’m guessing we will see the Wizaring World fill in that parking lot section I was thinking about last week, rather than take over any existing space.
The article also says that the new Wizarding World will feature “several attractions, including a school for wizards” as well as a recreation of Hogsmeade Village. From the tone of the article, the Japanese are as crazy about the Harry Potter books and films as the rest of the world is. Just wait until they get a taste of Butterbeer…
(5/10/12) As I had heard rumored not long ago, Universal Studios Japan has confirmed that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be coming to the Osaka park. Construction is set to begin within the next few weeks on the $500 million new land which will include the iconic Hogwarts Castle, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and other attractions when it opens in late 2014. According to the article at the LA Times, the Japanese version of the Wizarding World will open far ahead of the already announced version coming to the Hollywood park which isn’t expected to open now until 2016.
Nothing was really mentioned about the location for the ride, but I believe Universal Studios Japan is fairly land-locked currently, and to build an expansion of this size, I’ve got a feeling that something may have to come out. There is one out of the way parking lot area nestled in between the Jurassic Park ride building and the Waterworld show stadium that could be used I suppose… or perhaps they may opt to remove their version of Jaws as well, though that put the Wizarding World right in the way of the Waterworld show crowds throughout the day. With construction set to begin very soon, it wont be long before we find out exactly where the new Hogwarts castle will rise.
(4/19/12) A mysterious pecking sound at my window tonight revealed an interesting new development. According to a brief message, delivered by Owl-Mail… I’ve been told that before the year is over we may see the announcement of yet another Wizarding World of Harry Potter project. This time for Universal Studios Japan. This begs the question, what attraction(s) will Universal Japan have to remove to make room for the new Wizarding World?
???? - Back To The Future Replacement - Rumor - (12/4/12) It has been several years since we’ve heard any kind of peep from Universal Studios Japan regarding a possible replacement for the last remaining Back To The Future ride. Previous rumor suggested that they were looking to shut it down by 2012, but so far this has not happened and isn’t even an active rumor as of late.
That said, I was watching some old videos of the BTTF ride from back in the day, and recalled a unique feature of the time machine cars used in the ride. As fans of the film series know, a primary feature of the dashboard was the three-color coded Time Circuits display, showing off your “Destination Time”, “Present Time” and “Last Time Departed”.
So when the ride starts and you jump ahead to the futuristic Hill Valley of 2015, you see that date displayed on the Time Circuits during the actual ride experience. However, a neat feature designed to make the ride seem more immersive when it first opened in 1992 is going to cause some problems in the near future for the remaining ride. As you board the ride car, riders are quick to notice that the “Present Time” listed on the Time Circuits is indeed the actual real world time in which they are in. While this was fine in the 1990s and early 2000’s... I’ve got to think that the guests in Japan are already getting a good laugh when they initial time jump is only a jump from 2012 (soon 2013) to 2015 to see “The Future!” Once 2015 comes around for real... the time traveling storyline isn’t going to make any sense at all. 2016 anyone? 2017? While Doc will say he is taking you on a trip to the future, guests will be transported back in time to 2015 instead of forward.
So in short... I think the clock is ticking away very quickly for our friends in Japan, as the caretakers of the last Back To The Future: The Ride attraction in the world. By the time 2015 comes around, it would only make sense to close the ride once and for all to create a new attraction, rather than risk a Time Paradox. And as Doc. Brown would be quick to point out, "The results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe!... Granted, that's the worst-case scenario. The destruction however might be limited merely to our own galaxy."
(8/23/09) This rumor may be a bit ahead of it’s time, but one source suggests that Universal Japan is ready to retire their version of Back To The Future as well by 2011/2012. As The Simpsons are not really really well known characters in Japan (as they are in America), porting in a clone of the same Simpsons ride is not an option. However the rumor we’ve heard is a bit of a stunner, as our source claims that they may be looking an at option to license Batman from WB to create new simulator ride themed to The Dark Knight. DeLorean… meet The Tumbler. Now of course the really odd question is... can Spiderman and Batman co-exist in the same park, being from two different comic book companies? Maybe not in the USA, but I do think it would work in Japan where they are both viewed as just American Superhero comics. Plus we know that at one point in time Universal was attempting to build a Batman themed attraction for Islands of Adventure when the park was first just a concept.