UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(3/17/17) Universal Studios Japan Planning To Harry Potter Themed Night Spectacular This April (MORE...)
(3/1/17) Comcast Purchases Remaining Shares Ownership Shares of Universal Studios Japan (MORE...)
(1/23/17) Universal Cool Japan Highlight Reel (MORE...)
(1/2/17) Universal Studios Japan To Increase Ticket Price (MORE...)
Park News - (3/17/17) Our friends at Behind the Thrills have reported that Universal Studios Japan will open a special Harry Potter themed nighttime spectacular show starting on April 21st. The new show experience is expected to feature projection mapping on Hogwarts Castle and effects galore, including visuals of Dementors flying through the air.
This does seem to fit in a bit with an earlier rumor we had heard that a similar nighttime spectacular show was being designed for the American parks as well that could open sometime in 2017. More on this as we find out.
(3/1/17) Comcast NBCUniversal has announced that the company has agreed to purchase the remaining 49% ownership of Universal Studios Japan from their current partners, whcih include Goldman Sachs, former USJ Chief Executive Officer Glenn Gumpel, Asian private-equity firm MBK Partners and U.S. hedge fund Owl Creek Asset Management. The purchase price is reported at ¥254.8 billion (US$2.3 billion) which will give Comcast NBCUniversal 100% ownership of the Japanese theme park when the deal closes before the end of April 2017.
(1/2/17) The local news reports that Universal Studios Japan will raise ticket prices in February, with the new price of an adult admission to become 7,600 Yen (aprox: $64.70), an increase of 200 Yen.
(12/28/16) Our friends at BlooLoop have posted a few more details about the new Dragon Quest attraction coming to Universal Studios Japan in early 2017, including details about what is being called a "Real Battle Attraction" allowing guests to work together to kill monsters.
They also mention that the new Minion Park area that is replacing Back To The Future, is set to open on April 21st. It should be interesting to see how the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction works when fit into the former Back To The Future attraction building. It hasn't been confirmed if it will use new motion platform hardware or if they will repurpose the old BTTF motion platforms in the same way that The Simpsons ride did in the US parks.
(12/22/16) Universal Studios Japan will open new temporary attractions themed to the Dragon Quest game series in March that will allow guests to explore a dungeon themed area and fight off monsters, just like in the game. This is part of the 30th Anniversary of Dragon Quest and it is slated to open on Mach 17.
(10/8/16) Universal Studios Japan has now confirmed the story we reported on about "The Real" event slated to take place outside the park at Osaka Castle. The event will take place on select dates between December 16, 2016 and March 12, 2017. The official website has posted details and a promotional piece of concept art here.
(9/29/16) According to what I'm told Universal Studios Japan is planning on creating a new show outside the park during the 2017 Universal Cool Japan event that will be based on a famous battle at Osaka Castle. According to what I'm told, " they will be creating a show that takes place during the sengoku era, the warring states period. They are focusing on the final battle of this period that took place at Osaka castle about 400 years ago. They will be using Nishinomaru park inside of the Osaka Castle park, they mentioned there will be stalls and shops from that time period inside. As well as live preformances, projections on the castle itself, and fireworks."
A video has also been posted looking over the future site of where the show will take place.
January 2017 - Universal Cool Japan 2017 - (1/23/17) A great but quick highlight reel of the Universal Cool Japan 2017 attractions has been posted by local reader, Yukendoit. Check it out below.
(12/5/16) A very detailed breakdown of everything coming to Universal Cool Japan 2017, including a look at some exclusive merchandise and themed food items, can be found over at RocketNews24 this week.
(11/19/16) Universal Studios Japan has confirmed that a new themed "Escape" game will be added to Universal Cool Japan 2017 themed to "Detective Conan". (Apparently this another Japanese Anime program, and not the world famous Conan The Barbarian character that first jumped into my mind's eye (and now I can't get him to leave...) The attraction will come with an extra cost and be open from Jan. 13 through to May 28th.
Looks like the official attraction lineup for this year's event is complete: headlined by Godzilla: The Real 4D, along with Evangelion XR Ride, Attack on Titan: The Real, Monster Hunter: The Real, Detective Conan - The Escape and the off-site event taking place at Osaka Castle.
One more fun note... the Evangelion XR Ride attraction will be a VR Coaster experience taking place on the park's Space Fantasty indoor spinning coaster.
(10/19/16) Universal Studios Japan has released more details about the 2017 Universal Cool Japan event taking place from Jan. 13 to June 25. In addition to the previously announced Godzilla: The Real 4D attraction, other new attractions announced are Evangelion XR Ride and another Attack on Titan: The Real attraction that will bring the Armored Titan and Colossus Titan into an attraction storyline.
(8/2/16) Universal Studios Japan has announced the first details about "Universal Cool Japan 2017". This year's line-up is starting with the king himself... Godzilla: The Real 4-D, a new custom 4D confrontation with the giant 118.5 meter tall king of monsters himself starting in January 13, 2017.
2017 - Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem - Confirmed -
(10/20/16) Universal Studios Japan decided to re-announce their new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction (replacing Back To The Future) along with a new addition... the official name for the themed area surrounding the attraction will be called Minion Park. This will be the largest 'Minion' themed area in the world and include, "Several themed facilities, including a toy store, sweets factory and hotel, will be in the area around the attraction. Of course, these facilities have already been "taken over" by the Minions themselves, who journey alongside guests through Minion Park via a winding, center passage."
Minion Park and the new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction are set to open in Early 2017.
(6/22/16) Universal Studios Japan has confirmed that they will open the World's Largest Minion Area in 2017 to replace the now closed Back To The Future attraction.
The park's Back To The Future ride will be converted into the world's largest version of the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride, along with a Minion themed shop and more.
(6/3/16) Our friends at Behind the Thrills scoured the net to find photos and videos of the closing of Universal Studios Japan's Back To The Future ride and did not disappoint. The Japanese cosplayers were out in force in a variety of wacky costumes at the park as everyone swarmed in for one last ride "Back To The Future" until Doc climbed into the time machine one final time and drove off into history.
(4/1/16) It has been confirmed by Universal Studios Japan that their Back To The Future: The Ride attraction will close forever on May 31st. The park will announce details of the official "Goodbye campaign" they will hold for the ride in the near future. While they did not announce what would replace it, they did say that the building would undergo renovation after it closes. Should be interesting to see what might replace it, thought I'm still wondering if it could work as a new version of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, as the Minions are quite popular in Japan.
2020 - Super Nintendo World - Confirmed -
(12/13/16) We finally have a confirmation from Universal Studios Japan that they will open Super Nintendo World by the summer of 2020, ahead of the Olympic games coming to Tokyo, Japan. The press release confirmed once again that this will be the first Nintendo themed land at a Universal park, which will soon be followed by Super Nintendo Worlds at Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando.
The land will be expansive and very unique, especially if it looks anything like the new piece of artwork released, it will definitely bring the video game world to life in the real world. The Japanese version will feature at least two major attractions, plus tons of interactive areas, shops and restaurants, at a cost of 50-billion Yen. It will be built mostly in an area held for future expansion of the park as well as take up some of the park's current parking area.
(12/12/16) The Orlando Business Journey has reported that several new ride patents filed by Universal offer up a hint about some future attraction concepts in the works. You can see some of the concept art from the patent forms posted in a slideshow at OBJ, though keep in mind that they are keeping the themeing and concept as generic as they can in these patent forms, and focusing on the technology aspect of what the attraction will do to make it unique enough to deserve a patent.
Breaking it down however, there are images showing off a new two-passenger car ride where the cars appear to be able to fishtail out of control and/or simulate a "drift" style turn effect. There is a driver in the front with a steering wheel while the rider in the back seat has a console of buttons in front of them instead. The obvious answer here is that this is likely a mock-up for the future Mario Kart themed ride planned as part of a future Nintendo area.
Another mock-up shows guests loaded into some kind of over-head track mounted piece of hardware that holds a number of armored flight-suits. The appearance is that it could mimic the action of a super-hero character taking flight into the sky on an adventure. Screamscape sources tell us that this concept was proposed for an attraction that isn't expected to see the light of day at this point in time, but could resurface in the future.
Two of the concepts involve waterpark technology, one that could see technology added to a mat racer style slide (either controls or a video screen to the mat itself) or the possibility of setting something up on the mat before the slide that would trigger specific effects (lights, music, etc) to personalize the experience on the way down. A second waterpark concept is also an interesting new take on the popular new 'drop pod' idea, where in this case the pod that holds the rider would begin to actually fill half-way up with water before flushing the rider and human payload down the trapdoor.
The final idea shown is something called the Boom Coaster, showing off a mine-kart themed ride car that would look as if it was attached to a track system, but in reality the car is attached to a boom arm that goes down under the cart and attaches to an entirely hidden coaster style track system below the themeing. The concept would allow for the hidden track to lean, rise and fall, affecting how the car above appears to ride on the simulated themed ride surface. For example, it would allow for a coaster to appear to 'jump' a gap in the visual track, while staying connected to the hidden track system below. According to Screamscape sources the Boom Coaster concept is also a concept Universal is eyeballing for a future Nintendo themed ride concept that would involve a wild coaster ride through the world of Donkey Kong Country which often have mine cart coaster themed levels.
Universal may have a more complex time getting a patent on the Boom Coaster concept however, as I recall what seemed to be a very similar concept floating around the internet for years called the CANTILEVERED COASTER System, and in an interview with the creator posted to Coaster101 back in 2010, the creator of the Cantilevered Coaster says they were already granted a patent for their design in 2001. While the effect would be similar, there is a difference in the track systems between the two, as the Boom Coaster only appears to have one track system, while the Cantilevered Coaster would use two separate track systems, one to hold the car while the other would control all the extra movements, not unlike how S&S/Arrow's 4th Dimension coaster system also uses two rail systems for similar reasons.
(11/30/16) Universal has announced an update regarding their deal to build Nintendo themed attractions in the future. According to the press release "the fun of Nintendo" will be brought to life via "expansive, highly themed environments" at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood theme parks.
"Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure. Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life. Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you. And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.
You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains. And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.
The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special. All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you – in breathtakingly authentic ways."
The new Nintendo lands will feature "multiple attractions" as well as themed shops and restaurants. Planning is already well under way and while they are not yet ready to announce any dates, they did mention that each will "open separately over the next several years." An updated announcement video featuring Mark Woodbury (Universal Creative) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo) can be seen below.
As for the attractions... while things are still being planned, the early rumors indicate as many as three different attractions may be in development, one of the themes is said to be locked in for a Mario Kart themed attraction. It is worth mentioning that they only listed Universal Orlando as the site, an not one specific theme park. They also say that the first more detailed announcement to come from a specific park will happen "soon".
(7/13/16) According to an article posted by Destructoid the Mario / Nintendo section in development for Universal Studios Japan will eventually "exceed" the Harry Potter section. For comparison they say that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter cost the park $400 million, while the new Nintendo themed area is expected to cost over $500 million.
(3/5/16) According to the latest news posted to Kotaku, the location of the new Nintendo themed land at Universal Studios Japan will actually be immediately to the left of the main entrance, which in the location where the park has been putting many of their temporary attractions like Universal Cool Japan. I believe Monster Hunter and the Biohazard attractions are in the big special events soundstage, while I think Evangelion 4D is in the nearby 4D theater where they normally show Shrek 4D and Sesame Street 4D during the rest of the year. The area also looks to include what appears to be an employee parking lot and the turn-around for the Hollywood Dream coaster.
According to the article the Nintendo land will cost an estimated 40-billion yen ($351 million US) and they say that their goal is to have it open by 2020 in time for the when the Olympics come to Tokyo, which is expected to be between July 24 - August 9. With that in mind however, the last word from our sources indicated that 2020 was the old original opening date, and since Comcast has bought the park they have revised the time-table on many things, which would see bumped up to open in 2018 in Japan, and Diagon Alley pushed back to 2020. Either way, the two major new attraction areas should definitely lure in the tourists from the 2020 games.
(2/26/16) The world’s first Nintendo themed land will open at Universal Studios Japan in 2018. Look for a lot of character meet and greets, as well as photo ops to be placed here. As far as attractions go, a Mario Kart ride seems to be a lock-in concept, but there may be one or two other attractions under development as well… either another larger ride, or a pair of smaller themed flat rides.
(12/9/15) According to Screamscape sources the next major attraction on deck for Universal Studios Japan will be a Nintendo themed area and attraction(s). As the home turf for Nintendo, it only makes sense to drop the first Nintendo attractions into Japan first, before attempting to roll them out to the parks in the US market.
So far, the final scope of the project is unknown to me, as well as where they might try to locate it within USJ. The project could be as small as a single attraction (Mario Kart anyone?) or it could be a mini-land with a small collection of attractions of various scale and character meet & greets. Once The Flying Dinosaur coaster is up and running, hopefully we'll find out more about what's in store for bringing the world of Nintendo to life, and how soon it will happen.
2019 - Night Spectacular - Rumor - (2/26/16) I don’t have too many details about what is planned, other than that the park wanted some kind of night spectacular experience to help entertain and retain guests after dark.
2020 - Diagon Alley - Planning - (2/26/16) Much like Universal Studios Hollywood, a Diagon Alley expansion is planned to enhance the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter area in 2020. Unlike the Hollywood version however, I’m told that this area will focus more on the restaurants, gift shops, characters and interactive aspects of the land, and actually will NOT include a copy of the Escape From Gringotts attraction. However, in an interesting move, it will contain a new version of the Hogwarts Express train ride experience, that promises to be a similar but plussed experience to the one in Orlando.
???? - Future Brand Expansion - (5/13/16) The Japan Times has confirmed that Universal Studios Japan has now canceled their plans to build a second park in the Okinawa area, and will instead focus their efforts on the existing park in Osaka. The plans for the Okinawa area were first put into play by the previous owners, but now that the park has been sold to Comcast, they were not as confident about the profitability of a park in that area.
Unfortunately, expansion of the existing park site in Osaka in difficult to do as the area is already highly developed with little free or undeveloped space available. Of course they could be looking to plans to refresh the Osaka park by replacing older attractions as they become less popular. We've already seen the park confirm plans to close Backdraft and Back To The Future this year for example.
(2/18/16) Before the Comcast purchase of Universal Studios Japan, the previous owners were looking into options to build a second park with a unique theme in the Okinawa area. According to the local news, the change in ownership may see those plans scuttled after new studies show that the area may not draw in enough visitors to make the project cost effective.
The problem is that some studies suggest that the existing USJ theme park has a theoretical maximum annual capacity of 15 million, and with attendance approaching 14 million this year, the opportunist for continued growth at the Oaska site are limited, so adding a second theme park may be the only way to continue to grow the business in Japan.
(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.
(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.