Full Details of Our Day Exploring Universal Studios Japan and Super Nintendo World – Osaka, Japan
As a giant fan of Nintendo, it was a requirement for us to visit the Universal Studios in Japan. Planning a trip to the Japanese theme parks is very different than planning the US parks. I did a ton of research and put together a guide.
Read our full guide that includes planning, what to expect, the must do’s, food, and more here!
To say we were excited about visiting Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan would be an understatement. Having grown up playing N64, the Mario crew was a staple in the game rotation. While the US just opened it’s first Nintendo World in California with another addition on Orlando expected in a few years, it felt worth it to visit the park as it was intended and inspired in Japan.
Nintendo World is one land in the Universal Studios Japan. There was not too much else in Universal Studios Japan that caught our attention so we made sure to guarantee we would experience all of Nintendo World.
Due to the insane popularity, there are quite a bit of logistics to getting into the Nintendo World area of the park. You cannot simply walk into the land – you need a timed entry pass. There are three ways:
- Purchase express pass that includes entrance into Nintendo World – this is the only way that 100% guarantees you into the land. When you purchase the express pass, you either get to select your time or your time is assigned to you. This also includes express passes for the rides in the land.
- Upon entering the park, go into the app on your phone or kiosk, try and get a timed entry that gives you a return time to enter the park on a rolling basis. On very busy days, this does max out and can run out of times early in the day. Your odds are much higher if you get to the park for open.
- If the park is either very slow or opens early, there is a chance you do not need a timed entry to get into Nintendo Land. This is the most risky maneuver but I have read many reports that this works. Since timed entries to do start until 9AM when the park opens and the park generally opens early most days, if you get to Nintendo Land before 9AM, odds are high that entry times are not required.
We did not fly all the way from the US to Japan to potentially not get into Nintendo World. While it was way more money than I wanted to spend – practically doubling the ticket price – we purchased the express pass that got us into Nintendo World and also included express passes on both rides – Universal Express Pass 7 : Limited & Variety.
- MarioKart: Koopa’s Challenge
- Yoshi’s Adventure
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™
- Flight of the Hippogriff™
- JUJUTSU KAISEN
- The Real 4-D The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
- Hollywood Dream – The Ride or JAWS
The deal is, once you enter Nintendo World, if you leave you are not granted access back in. So we really framed our entire day around Nintendo World. Our timed entry was for 10:30AM so while we had our slot, we also knew we could try and get in early.
Unfortunately our journey there was a bit chaotic. The main line that is Osaka’s main train was temporarily paused due to someone getting hit by the train. This caused a large disruption in all the public transit around Osaka as all those people had to find an alternative. The entire ordeal definitely pushed us back but we did arrive before park open. It was also raining this morning but that did not seem to stop people from showing up! We were not as close to the front as we would have liked so by the time we got into the park, it was after 9AM so option 3 was not available to us. As soon as we scanned our tickets into the app, I navigated to get us an earlier timed entry – and we got 9:40AM.
We first walked into Harry Potter World which is a replica of the Universal Orlando but only the Hogsmead side (does not have the Diagon Alley portion). It was fun to walk around the area again but we did not have much interest in the attractions here. The Forbidden Journey ride made us legitimately ill and I have no need to ride that again.
Before long it was time to enter Nintendo World! It was further into the park than we realized so it was a bit of a walk. The mob of people waiting in line was definitely concerning so I weaved through the people to the front where the employees were checking entrance times and the line was really just people waiting for their time and then people just lined up behind them assuming it was a line to enter the park. I showed my phone with the entry time on it and through the warp pipe we went.
We were both overjoyed and overwhelmed as we emerged through the warp pipe. There was so much to look at – we just stood there with our mouths wide open. There was so much movement, color, and scale to this land that we could not wait to explore.
PRO TIP – Get your interactive band once you are on the other side of the warp pipe. The line for getting the band before you enter the warp pipe was insanely long and there was no wait at the stands after the warp pipe. At first I did not know if you were going to get these but after reading so many reviews, these really are essential to getting everything out of the land and after our experience, they are 100% worth it. Disney only wishes their magic bands did all the things that these bands do for the guest experience. Kevin and I shared a band – we got a Toad band – and took turns enjoying the experience. These bands are used to interact with everything
Our express passes for the attractions were more towards lunch time and if we learned anything from our days at the Disney parks, it is that the food areas get mobbed. In fact, the restaurant inside Nintendo World is known to need return times in order to eat there. So we made a bold decision as our first move inside Nintendo World to go eat lunch at Kinopio’s (Toadstool) Cafe which really worked out for us since we did not have breakfast and there was no return times needed yet. We got in line and waited probably 20 minutes to place our order. The queue here is EPIC. Toad is on a screen shouting Japanese and we were here for it. When we got closer, Kevin even took out his phone to have google translate help us out in knowing what he was saying. The theming to toad is found in every corner and all the food items had a Mario tie in.
We were given a number that must have a GPS in it because the food is brought out to the table. There was a screen above where the drinks were filled of Toad in a penguin outfit gathering ice from the penguin kingdom – are you kidding me?? Around the corner we were seated by an employee and before we sat down we had to take a lap – this dining room was incredible. Around the room were screens that had toads doing all sorts of things – half of them were toads in the kitchen making all the food. The other half of the screens were toads living their best life – definitely try and request a table on the perimeter with one of these screens.
The food arrived and we were once again wow’ed at how much the food looked like the photos – they were perfectly crafted and even more amazing it was all delicious.
- Luigi Burger (Pesto Grilled Chicken): Grilled chicken, basil pesto, Swiss cheese, green pepper and spinach served on a brioche bun with a side of truffle French fries
- ? Block Tiramisu: Tiramisu layered with coffee soaked lady fingers topped with cocoa powder and chocolate power-up
- Mt. Beanpole Cake: Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry layered cake topped with a matcha mousse
- Teriyaki Chicken & Super Star Rice
We were so happy to have done this first thing during our Nintendo World visit as it was mobbed the rest of our time in this land and they did activate the need for people to get a return time to eat here.
We decided to stay on the ground level and explore all the nooks and crannies. Putting our bands to the test, we punched blocks, collected coins, activated stickers, and more. We still had a few more minutes before our express passes were active so we went into the Power Up store and just wandered in amazement – until I saw the Chef Toad and purchased it instantly.
It was time to ride the Mario Kart ride and we were beyond excited – we have heard nothing but amazing things about this attraction and how well it integrates ride functionality moving through the space with VR. The express pass worked like a charm and we zoomed through the queue – the premise here is you enter Bowzer’s Castle and each room is a different part of that so you get to see all the different “bad guys” and weapons to try and beat Mario during the go-kart. We were given the Mario hats before the pre-show where we were instructed on how to play. Playing this VR game is not the most intuitive – you actually need to pay attention to the instructions.
Then we were loaded up into our Mario Kart. Each car has the VR glasses connected so you attach those to your Mario hat to secure them in place. Then you tap your band to the steering wheel to get credit for your progress. And then off you go! It was truly the most amazing immersive experience in a ride and we loved it so much. I actually did better than Kevin so I need the record to show that and forever be immortalized here on the blog. If this is where ride technology is going, we are here for it.
Our express passes were ready for the second of the two attractions in Nintendo World – Yoshi’s Adventure. This is a much calmer ride but since it is on the second level, you get an incredible view of Nintendo World. It is a really cute attraction that takes you through various scenes with call backs to Yoshi’s World and has an interact component looking for Yoshi Eggs. And there is even a cameo by Captain Toad!
We returned back to the ground level to finish exploring the entire floor and make sure we did not miss any opportunities to use our bands and collect coins and stamps. Characters of Mario, Luigi, and Peach were all stand by lines but Toad – the man – was walking around meeting people. The mob of people to get photos with all these characters was high so we didn’t have our photo ops with characters.
Upstairs we started our exploration and noted the multiple areas for mini games. The concept here is that there are five mini games and if you win, you get a key. Collecting three keys allows you to enter Bowser Junior and play the boss game. At first we did not think we would get to complete this but lines moved pretty fast and we did not wait more than fifteen minutes for any of the lines.
Here are the five mini games available:
- Thwomp Panel Panic: A giant interactive screen in which you need to flip all the tiles to one color before the timer is up. (up to 3 players)
- Koopa Troopa POWer Punch: This is a timing game where you hit a “POW” brick to make a shell pop up through a pipe to knock a Koopa Troopa over. (one player)
- Goomba Crazy Crank: This easy mini game just involved turning a wheel fast enough to eventually knock the Goomba off a log. (one plater)
- Piranha Plant Nap Mishap: The goal of this game is to tap alarm clocks that are going off – like whack-a-mole – so that the sleeping Piranha Plant does not wake up. (up to four players)
- Bob-omb Kaboom Room: This mini game has two parts – first puzzle pieces around a room in which you have to collect by tapping the screens and then put the puzzle together all before the BOB-OMB goes kaboom. (up to 4 players)
Going into this experience, we had no idea what we were doing nor what to expect – we picked games based on short lines while we were exploring. We saw varying success at all games with the exception of the Goomba Crazy Crank – everyone wins that one. For our keys, we played Thwomp Panel Panic, Goomba Crazy Crank, and Bob-omb Kaboom Room and fortunately, we won on the first trip for all three. Thwomop Panel Panic was hard and we watched every group in front of us lose – thankfully we were able to pull out a win in the final seconds and the entire line of people cheered. Bob-omb Kaboom Room was also very challenging since you had to get the puzzle pieces first then put the puzzle together and this was another one completed in the nick of time.
With three keys complete, we were eligible to take on Bowser Jr Shadow Showdown which can be played up to 12 people. This game was so fun and I am so glad we collected keys so we could experience this game. The concept is that you use your body to perform actions through your shadow that somehow works with the game screen – when you jump, your shadow jumps, and then you cause an action. Waving your arms to deflect bombs, ducking down to avoid bullets, jumping to hit to question block and get items. It was impressive how well the technology works cause it was very immersive and felt like we were in a Mario Party mini-game.
The land is pretty gosh darn perfect. We spent five hours doing and experiencing as much as possible and we got pretty darn close for a first visit. As a completionist, there was no better feeling than seeing all four gold stickers filled in on our Toad profile. But that being said, there are hundreds of stickers you get from unlocking different actions and achieving things in the land. What makes this land so wonderful is the repeatability factor – the app is so engaging, responsive, and well done. These Power Up bands actually enhance the experience in the land and are well worth the price. Honestly, Disney wishes it had a wearable band and app that were this good and I really hope they are taking notes.
With it being almost 3PM, we decided to do a giant lap the rest of the park to see what else was going on at Universal Studios Japan. We passed through the area for Jaws and Jurassic Park, grabbed a delicious pastry wrapped hot dog along the way, and strolled back towards the front of the park. We saw a stand selling Pokemon inspired foods and wondered how they have not created a land for Pokemon yet – million dollar idea.
Since we had spent all that money on the Express Pass, we figured it was best to at least get one more ride in so we hopped on Hollywood Dream – the Ride. This unique roller coaster gives you two options – ride going forward or ride going backwards. We paid close attention to figure out how the heck they manage two trains going opposite directions on the same track but somehow it works. I was in no mood to go backwards so we got in line for the forward facing option. The coaster itself is nothing fancy but we thought it was super fun going up and over the hills to catch air and out of seat moments. Everyone also gets to select the song they want to listen to and while the songs can use some updating, we had a wonderful ride.
We wanted to avoid the crowds for dinner – especially from what we witnessed in Super Nintendo World. We ended up back in the Harry Potter area for butter beer and noticed the Three Broomsticks had a very good option for our meal – the Great Feast. The Great Feast includes Garden salad, rotisserie smoked chicken, pork rib platter, corn on the cob, and roast potatoes. For a group of four, this was actually a great amount of food and I have to say, I expected the quality to be worse and thought it was pretty tasty and a great way to get protein and vegetables. We loved the ambiance of eating in the Three Broomsticks and were surprised that the dinner crowds never showed up. The crowds here really were specific to Super Nintendo World.
With that, our lap around Universal Studios Japan was complete. While we could have tackled more rides, our time exploring Super Nintendo World really was so fulfilling that we were content with our entire day. We may not have been able to do everything in the park, we did accomplish our goal of completing everything in Super Nintendo World which was definitely worth the trip here. Super Nintendo World far exceeded our expectations and is a perfectly designed space with so much to completely immerse yourself in the experience. I cannot wait to see the future expansions!