UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
USJ Co. / Goldman Sachs
Park News - (5/22/15) Universal Studios Japan has announced a major improvement for their Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride yesterday, stating that the ride has now evolved into a 3D ride experience. Now I just have to wonder when the Orlando ride will be converted to 3D.
(4/28/15) Universal Studios Japan will once again feature a live-action "One Piece" show in the park's Waterworld show stadium this summer. In addition to the special live action show, the "One Piece Premier Summer" event will also feature special themed merchandise, food and more from July 3 to September 30. A promo video for the event can be seen below.
(4/22/15) Universal Studios Japan has announced they are extending the run of the park’s temporary Universal Cool Japan anime themed attraction through to June 28th due to their massive popularity with park guests. The four temporary attractions were previously slated to shut down on May 10th.
(4/10/15) Universal Studios Japan will soon tap into another huge anime / video game IP this summer when the park will introduce the "Yo-Kai Watch: The Real" experience to the park. Yo-Kai Watch is a popular show with the smaller kids, which apparently involves wearing a special watch to summon mythic creatures to do battle for you. In a nutshell... yes, it does sound a long like Pokemon, but they are selling out the toy store shelves by selling collectible fake watches instead of trading cards.
(4/2/15) The numbers are in and Universal Studios Japan pulled in 12.7 million guests over the 2014 fiscal year that has just come to a close… up 2.2 million guests from the previous year thanks to the addition of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
In other news, The Minions have come to USJ... but not in the way we thought they might. The park has opened a new Minion Plaza area that features a gift shop, themed food, a street show and a small playland.
(3/19/15) According to the Hollywood Reporter, Universal Studios Japan may be looking to build a second park in the Okinawa area, possibly taking over the site of a US military base slated to relocate in the near future. In an effort to keep things different, this new park would pick new themes, possibly tied to the more tropical island theme of the area, rather than the Hollywood and Japanese movie themes used in Osaka.
(2/16/15) In an interesting development,
a reader sends us a picture from Universal Studios Japan where a new mysterious Minion themed construction wall has been set up around the Back To The Future gift shop, which closed down a couple of days ago. I've been wondering if Minions might invade Japan sooner than later. Stay tuned.
(2/9/15) It's just an early rumor right now, but could a Minions ride be in the works for Universal Studios Japan? I had suggested earlier that the park's aging Back to the Future ride could be transformed into a Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride in the future, and now I'm told that suddenly the park is now selling a ton of Minion themed merchandise at the San Francisco Candies story next to the BTTF ride building. While the sale of themed merchandise is not a clear sign of anything, it is kind of an interesting location though, and you would think that replacing BTTF with a new attraction may be high on the park's list of things to do in the next year or two.
(1/16/15) As expected, the opening of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter is putting Universal Studios Japan on track to break their own all time attendance record of 11.02 million guests, which was set back in 2001 when the park first opened. Currently the 10th million guest passed through the gates on Monday during this currently financial year which runs from April to March, and given previous attendance trends, the park should comfortably surpass the previous record as there are still 2.5 months left to go in the year.
(12/17/14) The Park Front Hotel will open in Summer 2015 next to Universal Studios Japan as a new 5th official hotel for the busy theme park resort. It will be a 28 story hotel with nearly 600 rooms and one odd but unique feature. According to this article the hotel will offer a very unique elevator experience, as the elevator will be themed to look like a “time machine”. No further details were given, so I’m not quite sure how this will play out, though it would be interesting to have an elevator with a Flux Capacitor and Back to the Future style Time Circuit display to choose your floor from.
(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.
(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.
2015 - Universal Cool Japan - (4/22/15) Universal Studios Japan has announced they are extending the run of the park’s temporary Universal Cool Japan anime themed attraction through to June 28th due to their massive popularity with park guests. The four temporary attractions were previously slated to shut down on May 10th.
(1/28/15) A new video showing off this year's Monster Hunter attraction at Universal Studios Japan has been embedded below.
(1/26/15) Time for some new fun videos from Universal Studios Japan where we get a preview of the new Evangelion The Real 4D experience. They also show off a cool 3D full body scan booth you can step into to turn yourself into a custom 3D figure.
An even better however is the one below this, showing off in action the new Resident Evil Escape attraction in action.
(1/23/15) Pictures from a sneak preview of the new Attack on Titan: The Real attraction at Universal Studios Japan can be found at CBR. The attraction officially opens on Friday. You can also view some video footage of guests in front of the large figures from the animated show where giant humanoids attack and eat people like candy.
Meanwhile details from the preview of the new Biohazard (Resident Evil): The Escape attraction can be found at Kotaku. Guests are brought into a theater to watch a presentation from the Umbrella Corp about a new invention, divided in groups of four and given a small briefcase and a tablet. As you can expect, it isn't long before the hordes of undead arrive to get involved and your group's tables gets an email with a puzzle to solve in order to excape from the four-floor building you are trapped in. They say the total experience to solve the puzzles and escape takes around 90 minutes on average.
(11/7/14) The latest buzz about the Universal Cool Japan attractions claims that the 4D Evangelion attraction will be set up inside the park’s existing 4D theater, which already has seats that can move along with wind, water, scent and smoke 4D effect generators. The attraction will have a custom made story about how the park guests are seeking refuge inside an underground shelter just as an “Angel” attacks and EVA-01 launches to defend them, catching the guests in the middle of the giant mech battle.
As for the “Attack on Titan: The Real” attraction, it is said that Universal Studios Japan will build two life-sized giant Titan figures, one male and one female, each between 46 and 49 feet tall, just as seen in the concept art on the website.
(11/6/14) As part of the park's "Universal Cool Japan" program, it looks like Japanese Anime and video game fans will have a lot of good times ahead at the park with four new attractions open for a limited time from Jan 23, 2015 through to May 10, 2015: Evangelion: The Real 4D, Attack on Titan: The Real, Biohazard: The Escape and Monster Hunter: The Real.
It seems it was just announced this week that the Evangelion attraction will be the world's first Eva "4D" attraction.
I'm not familiar with the Attack on Titan story, but apparently it involves the world being taken over by giant humanoid creatures who will grab and eat people on sight.
Biohazard: The Escape sounds like a great concept, as they theme an Escape Room style experience to the world of Biohazard (aka: Resident Evil).
We've seen Monster Hunter: The Real life-sized monster displays set up in the park before, but Universal promises that this year's event will be improved even more.
As we've seen with other themed special events at Universal Studios Japan, you can expect the park to offer unique themed food items, grand photo opportunities as well as special exclusive themed merchandise items for sale as well. Between the launch of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter last July and now the Universal Cool Japan event taking place for the first half of 2015, I'd expect the park to be quite busy as large crowds of fans invade the park.
Expect more details about each of the four attractions to be announced as the event’s launch date gets closer.
(10/20/14) According to this article Universal Studios Japan will open a new Evangelion anime themed attraction on January 23, 2015, themed to Neon Genesis Evangelion. This will be another temporary attraction, open only from Jan. 23 through to May 10, 2015, that will feature some 3D imagery, but other than that, no further details are known.
2015 - New Sesame Street Attractions - Confirmed -
(12/30/14) I’m not sure how this page translates, but it appears that Universal Studios Japan will be adding two new Sesame Street themed rides to the park’s kiddie area in March 2015. There will be an Elmo themed Zamperla Skater as well as what I’m guessing is a Zamperla Samba Baloon ride themed to what appears to be a new pink polka-dot Sesame Street character named Moppy.
I had not heard of Moppy myself and chances are many of you probably have not either, because according to the MuppetWiki, Moppy was created as an exclusive character for Universal Studios Japan way back in 2011 for the park’s 10th Anniversary celebration. Up to now, Moppy has only been seen in live shows with his friend Elmo and as a walk-around character, but Moppy even has his own store called the Lucky Spot that sells tons of exclusive Moppy merchandise. I guess Moppy has a big league following in Japan now, because he is getting his own ride now too.
According to a reader, the rough translation of the Japanese page promises that in addition to the new rides, there will be a new street show and new “close touching interaction” with the characters, as well as all new merchandise and specialty food items.
2016 - Jurassic Park Gliders - Rumor - (3/31/15) The latest word from Screamscape sources is that Universal Studios Japan will open a new coaster style ride in the Jurassic Park section of the park. While we don't know exactly what the ride will be, the popular line of thought is that it will be similar to the small family flying coasters installed in the Jurassic Park areas in Florida and Singapore.
???? - New Attractions - Rumor - (11/13/14) So with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter now open in Japan, you might be wondering just what the park may be planning to add next. According to Screamscape sources the park has been mulling over ideas for attraction replacements for two aging attractions: Terminator 2 3-D and Back To The Future.
As I sort of jokingly pointed out a few years ago, the Back To The Future need is really in need of replacement in the next few months, simply from a story point of view, as the “future” the ride takes guests for a wild-ride through is actually listed as 2015 in the ride vehicles, and making a time-jump from 2015 to an entirely different looking 2015 world would create something of a paradox… and those are very bad according to Doc Brown. Anyway… the two attractions do however have a very similar answer when it comes to a possible replacemen… Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
While we saw the Terminator 2-3D attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood converted into a dual-theater version of the Minion Mayhem ride, it also stands to reason that the existing Back To The Future attraction building could be easily converted into a giant-sized Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction far more easily, by reusing the existing simulator car ride hardware and projection screen system already in place for Back To The Future. Universal saw much success with this plan a few years ago in the US when they converted the Back To The Future rides in Hollywood and Orlando into new Simpsons themed rides, but since The Simpsons aren’t as well known in Japan as the US, it makes sense why BTTF was left to continue running in Japan.
Meanwhile the popularity of the Minions have been growing in Japan, gaining a good foothold after the release of the second Despicble Me film, and with a third film now confirmed, as a solo Minion movie to hit the theaters in 2015, Minion mania has clearly hit Japan. In fact, pictures (here and here) of an existing gift-shop in the park being converted to have a new Minion theme were found on Twitter this week as well. So will the Minions take over Doc Browns lab or Cyberdyne? Hopefully we’ll find out soon.
(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.