Universal Studios Japan (ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパンYunibāsaru Sutajio Japan), located in Osaka, is one of six Universal Studios theme parks, owned and operated by USJ Co., Ltd., which is wholly owned by NBCUniversal (as of 2017). The park is similar to the Universal Orlando Resort since it also contains selected attractions from Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood.
The park opened on 31 March 2001. Over 11 million guests visited the park in its opening year, making it the world's fastest amusement park to have achieved the 10 million milestone at the time. Since then, Universal Studios Japan has had approximately 8 million visitors every year. Most visitors are Japanese tourists and tourists from other Asian countries such as South Korea and China. It is also very popular among Western tourists and expatriates. In 2005, Goldman Sachs became the largest shareholder in Universal Studios Japan.
Various events were held in the year 2011 to celebrate the park's tenth anniversary, by which time a total of 88 million guests had cumulatively attended the park. There were 700,000 annual passport holders in June 2012 and in the 2012 fiscal year, 9.75 million guests visited the park. During the 2013 fiscal year, Universal Studios Japan received 10.5 million guests. Various factors contributed to this growth in 2013, including the opening of the backwards roller coaster "Hollywood Dream – The Ride: Backdrop" in March, and the "New Amazing Adventure of Spider-Man - The Ride 4K3D" in July, which installed new 4KHD technology, which proved to be popular among the younger generation. The family area "Universal Wonderland" which opened in March 2012 also attracted many families.
Recent installments include limited-time attractions such as "Biohazard - The Real" and "Monster Hunter - The Real", both based on popular video game franchises, and "One Piece Premier Show", which is based on the popular anime series, providing attractions based on entertainment worldwide. On 15 July 2014, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a themed area based on the blockbuster Harry Potter film series, opened to the public. The popular ride The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, was revamped to play in 3D only 10 months after its opening as the first ride of its kind in the world. With a total investment of 45 billion yen, the addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the park is projected to have an economic ripple effect of 5 trillion 60 million yen over the next 10 years in Japan, and anticipates many visitors from both Japan and overseas.
On Monday, 29 October 2012, Universal Studios Japan greeted its 100 millionth visitor since its opening in 2001. According to the 2014 Theme Index Global Attraction Attendance Report, Universal Studios Japan is ranked fifth among the top 25 amusement/theme parks worldwide, attracting 11.8 million visitors in 2014, 16.8% more than in the previous year.
Studio one day passes start at ￥6,852 (￥7,400 with tax) for adults and ￥4,723 (￥5,100 with tax) for children. Seniors (65 years or over) start at ￥6,204 (￥6,700 with tax).
Studio two day passes start at ￥13,612 (￥14,700 with tax) for adults and ￥9,260 (￥10,000 with tax) for children.
Licensed properties included at Universal Studios Japan
Like other Universal parks, Universal Studios Japan does not limit itself to attractions based on Universal's owned-library. It has licensed other franchises from different studios for some attractions. Some examples include:
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.
Universal Parks & Resorts announced a partnership with Nintendo in May 2015 to build new Nintendo-themed attractions. In March 2016, Universal Studios Japan and Nintendo announced that a new Nintendo-themed area is coming to the park in 2020, in time for the Tokyo2020 Summer Olympics. ¥40 billion is being invested for the project (funded by Universal) and the area will feature many attractions themed on Mario, as well as other Nintendo characters. An eastern area of the park currently used for events was confirmed as being the new development's location.
Motion Picture Magic - When the park first opened in 2001, the attraction 'Motion Picture Magic,' hosted by director Steven Spielberg, occupied the building that currently houses the attraction Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic. The attraction, originally designed by experience designer Bob Rogers and the design team BRC Imagination Arts, 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.
Back to the Future - The Ride has been replaced by Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
Animation Celebration has been closed to make way for Playing with Curious George.
The Western Area, and with it The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show and the Animal Actors 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.
The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show was a live stunt show based upon a wide variety of Universal's Western films. Opening on 31 March 2001, in the Western Town section of the park, the show featured several cowboy-themed actors surviving death-defying stunts, shootings and explosions. The show closed in 2006 and has since been replaced by Wicked.
Land of Oz (closed in 2011)
A former section at Universal Studios Japan, which was based on L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz book series. It was later replaced by Universal Wonderland section.
Wicked - This was an abbreviated one-act version of the musical, presented in Japanese.
Toto & Friends - This was an animal trick show, featuring dogs, birds and other trained animals.
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.
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. attraction as an employee pulled it down to secure it.
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