If you like theme parks and plan a trip to Japan, you’re in for a treat. Japan has some of the world’s most exciting and magical theme parks, guaranteed to create lasting memories for the whole family.
I know how important it is to choose the right theme park. I’m here to share my experiences visiting two of Japan’s top theme parks: Tokyo Disney and Universal Studios Japan. From thrilling rides to stunning parades, both parks have something for everyone.
In this article, I’ll compare these two amazing theme parks and give you the lowdown on which one will be the perfect fit for your family. So get ready, pack your backpack with all the essentials, and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Japanese theme parks!
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- Tokyo Disney (Disneyland and Disney Sea)
- Universal Studios Japan – Osaka
- Tokyo Disney vs. Universal Studios Japan
Tokyo Disney (Disneyland and Disney Sea)
Located just outside Tokyo in Urayasu, Tokyo Disney has two separate parks: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. The two Disney parks are Japan’s most visited theme parks, drawing in millions of visitors annually.
Tokyo Disneyland is a classic Disney park featuring all the beloved characters, parades, and attractions you’ve come to know and love. From Main Street, USA, to Cinderella’s Castle, this park will surely delight children and adults alike. Tokyo Disneyland is perfect for families with younger children, but there are plenty of attractions for all ages.
On the other hand, Tokyo DisneySea is a unique and stunning park that features a nautical theme inspired by the stories and legends of the sea. This park is ideal for older children and teenagers who want a more immersive and adventurous experience. Tokyo DisneySea boasts incredible attractions, such as the Tower of Terror and Journey to the Center of the Earth, and breathtaking performances and shows.
How to Get There
Tokyo Disney is easily accessible by train and is just a few stations away from Tokyo Station on the JR Keiyo Line. You can also take the Disney Resort Monorail directly to its entrance.
From Tokyo Station
- Route: Tokyo Station -> JR Keiyo Line -> Maihama Station
- Duration: 15-20 minutes
From Shinjuku Station
- Route: Shinjuku Station -> JR Chuo Line -> Tokyo Station -> JR Keiyo Line -> Maihama Station
- Duration: 45 minutes to an hour
- Arrive early to beat the crowds.
- Utilize Tokyo Disneyland’s Fast Pass system to save time waiting in lines for popular attractions.
- People line up (very) early for the parades.
- Download and use the Disney Park App (it’s a fantastic time saver)
Universal Studios Japan – Osaka
Osaka Universal Studios is a unique and thrilling experience for families with children of all ages. The park is a cornucopia with exciting rides, attractions, shows, and character experiences catering to all interested visitors.
The Universal theme park has many attractions inspired by popular movies and TV shows, including Jurassic Park, Minions, and more. The park is also home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a must-visit attraction for any Potter fans. It features a replica of Hogwarts Castle, themed rides, shops, and restaurants.
How to Get There
Universal Studios Japan is accessible by train. The park has a train station, Universal City Station, on the JR Sakurajima Line. You can also get there by bus and car.
From Osaka Station
- Route: Osaka Station -> JR Loop Line -> Nishikujo Station -> JR Yumesaki Line -> Universal City Station
- Duration: Approximately 15 minutes
From Namba Station
- Route: Namba Station -> Yamatoji Line -> Imamiya Station -> JR Osaka Loop Line -> Nishikujo Station -> JR Yumesaki Line -> Universal City Station
- Duration: Approximately 20 minutes
From Shin-Osaka Station
- Route: Shin-Osaka Station -> JR Kyoto Line -> Umeda Station -> JR Osaka Loop Line -> Nishikujo Station -> JR Yumesaki Line -> Universal City Station
- Duration: Approximately 20 minutes
- Arrive Early: get in line and be one of the first visitors to the park.
- Download the App: to get real-time information on wait times, show schedules, and ride closures.
- Take Advantage of the Express Pass: Buy a pass to skip the lines.
- Don’t Miss the Shows: notably “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and the “Universal Monsters Live Rock and Roll Show.”
Tokyo Disney vs. Universal Studios Japan
Disneyland and Universal offer a wide range of experiences for visitors. In this part, we’ll contrast the most famous rides and exhibitions at each park to help you choose which is ideal.
- Space Mountain: This thrilling roller coaster takes guests on an exciting journey through outer space with twists, turns, and drops in complete darkness.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Embark on a swashbuckling adventure with Captain Jack Sparrow as you sail through scenes from the famous movie franchise.
- Journey to The Center of The Earth: Take a thrilling 4-D journey underground, where you’ll experience interactive scenes, special effects, and more.
- Indiana Jones: Go on a wild adventure with Indiana Jones.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Tour Hogsmead, complete with a replica of Hogwarts Castle and iconic rides like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: Join Gru, his daughters, and the mischievous Minions in this hilarious 3D simulator ride.
- Jurassic Park – The Ride: Experience an exciting river raft adventure through a prehistoric jungle filled with dinosaurs.
- Mario World: features various rides and attractions, including a Mario Kart-themed ride, Yoshi’s Adventure, and the Power-Up Band.
One of the key differences between the two parks is the variety of characters and themes each park offers.
Disney has a whole host of original characters.
- Mickey Mouse & Friends
- Disney Princesses.
- Pixar Pals
Universal Studios Japan caters to older kids who are fans of these blockbuster films while offering plenty for younger visitors.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Mario Bros.
- Jurassic Park Dinosaurs
When it comes to satisfying your taste buds, both parks have a variety of food options that cater to different preferences. Comparing the food offerings of Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan, you can decide which park is more likely to satisfy your cravings for an unforgettable day.
The restaurants and cafes are known for their diverse menu selections, ranging from Japanese cuisine to Western favorites. The park features over 30 dining establishments where guests can enjoy meals inspired by Disney characters or themed around various attractions within the park.
- Captain Hook’s Galley: Enjoy pirate-themed dishes like seafood pizza and treasure box desserts.
- Hungry Bear Restaurant: Savor hearty American-style fares like burgers, fried chicken, and barbecue ribs.
- Pan Galactic Pizza Port: Indulge in out-of-this-world pizzas with unique toppings like teriyaki chicken or seafood mixtures.
The culinary experience at Universal revolves around its blockbuster movie themes. Diners can select from an array of 20+ dining choices, with both sit-down restaurants and grab-and-go food stands serving various Japanese and global dishes.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Dine at the Three Broomsticks or enjoy Butterbeer from one of the many carts scattered throughout Hogsmeade Village.
- Jurassic Park: Feast on dino-sized burgers and other prehistoric-inspired dishes.
- Minion Park: Satisfy your sweet tooth with Minion-themed desserts like banana-flavored soft-serve ice cream or colorful macarons.
One of the most exciting parts of any theme park visit is choosing the perfect souvenir to bring home. Whether it’s a t-shirt, key chain, or plush toy, souvenirs are a great way to remember the fun times you had with your family. During our recent visit to Tokyo Disney and Universal Studios Japan, my wife and I had a blast browsing the souvenir shops and picking out our favorite mementos with our three boys.
As we explored Tokyo Disney, we were excited to browse the souvenir shops and find the perfect mementos to remember our visit. However, we must admit we were underwhelmed by the options available. We visited the various stores and found that most carried the same items, with limited variety across the park. Excited to pick out their own souvenirs, our boys did not buy anything of note.
Despite the disappointing memorabilia at Disney, one thing we did enjoy was the souvenir medals. The medals are all over the park and can make a meaningful keepsake of your trip. On our visit, we each made a medal to commemorate the holiday.
At Universal Studios Japan, we were blown away by the variety and quality of the memorabilia available. From Harry Potter wands to Super Mario Bros., there was something for every interest and age group. One of our boys’ favorite spots was Ollivanders Wand Shop, where they got to select a wand and witness an interactive show that brought the Harry Potter world to life.
We also enjoyed exploring the Super Nintendo World area and were impressed by the Super Mario Bros. merchandise range. From t-shirts and hats to collectible coins and plush toys, we found many unique items we hadn’t seen before. We were especially impressed by the attention to detail in the products, making them seem like true collectors’ items. Overall, we were impressed by the quality and variety of the memorabilia available at Universal Studios Japan.
Both parks have many accommodation options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel or a budget-friendly option, plenty of choices are available to suit your needs. Some hotels even offer special packages, including park tickets, transportation to and from the park, and other perks to make your stay more enjoyable.
Hotels near Tokyo Disney
Tokyo Disneyland has two official Walt Disney Company hotels, the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, and Disney Ambassador Hotel. Both hotels offer a magical experience that transports guests to the world of Disney with their themed rooms, character greetings, and other fun activities. In addition to these official hotels, several different Disney Partner Hotels offer a more affordable option for visitors. These partner hotels provide free shuttle service to and from the park, and some even offer additional benefits such as discounted park tickets or early park admission. Staying at one of these hotels is a great way to fully immerse yourself in the Disney experience while enjoying some added perks.
Hotels near Universal Studios Japan
The Park Front Hotel offers convenient access and various amenities such as character greetings and early park entry. In addition, several partner hotels provide shuttle service to and from the park, discounted park tickets, and other benefits.
Which is better, Disneyland or DisneySea Japan?
Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea offer unique experiences, so it comes down to personal preference. Tokyo Disneyland is the perfect destination if you’re looking for a more traditional theme park experience. However, if you want to explore a world of nautical adventures and thrilling rides, head over to Tokyo Disney Sea.
Is it worth it to go to Universal Studio Japan?
Yes, Universal Studio Japan is well worth a visit! With unique attractions and experiences based on blockbuster movies and shows, there is something for everyone. From exciting rides to dining experiences, Universal Studio Japan offers an unforgettable experience.
What are Some Other Notable Japanese Theme Parks?
Japan has a wide array of famous theme parks. Whether you are looking for an indoor theme park or want to experience a historical theme park, here is a list of Japan’s theme parks:
- Sanrio Puroland
- Huis Ten Bosch
- Ghibli Park
- Nijigen no Mori
- Fuji-Q Highland
- Huis Ten Bosch
- Yomiuri Land
- Cosmo World
- Tokyo Joypolis
- Legoland Japan
Tokyo Disney and Universal Studios Japan offer a wide range of experiences that will delight visitors of all ages. Tokyo Disney offers two separate parks: Tokyo Disneyland, which is perfect for families with younger children, and Tokyo Disney Sea, which is ideal for older children and teenagers. Disneyland features all the classic Disney characters and attractions, while Disney Sea has a unique nautical theme and rides like the Tower of Terror and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
On the other hand, Universal Studios Japan is a must-visit for Harry Potter fans and offers exciting attractions like Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Jurassic Park – The Ride.
When it comes to choosing between Tokyo Disney and Universal Studios Japan, it ultimately depends on your preferences. Families with younger children might prefer Tokyo Disneyland, while those with older children or teenagers might prefer Tokyo Disney Sea or Universal Studios Japan. Harry Potter fans should not miss Universal Studios Japan, while Disney fans will love Tokyo Disney. Regardless of which park you choose, plan ahead, arrive early, and utilize the park’s resources, such as Fast Passes and apps, to make the most of your visit.