In honor of my seventh visit (and as it’s the most magically powerful number), below is a list of Kansai’s best theme park’s best attractions. Obviously, not everyone will agree with this, but I think it’s safe to say most other ALTs’ lists would be populated by the same rides. Without further ado, let’s start with number seven.
Having recently learned of the closure of Back to the Future the Ride, Jaws was able to slip into the ranking. While Universal Studios Hollywood still has Jaws comprise a part of its Studio Tour, the ride in Orlando was shut down. You are guided on a boat tour, and it goes about as well as you can expect. There isn’t a single rider line, so you may have to wait awhile, and it’s entirely in Japanese. You can entertain yourself by bringing aboard a dinosaur mitt available with turkey legs in Jurassic Park and irritating the employees.
- Jurassic Park the Ride
I will always associate this ride with the time I went with my father and cousins in California and his hat flew off, forever lost. That said, make sure your valuables are safely tucked away, and preferably with a waterproof shell. It’s pretty variable in how wet you get based on where you’re seated, but the dinosaurs are entertaining to look at and the one big drop is fun. Waiting in line, you’ll be graced with a super racist video depicting only the fat white guy screwing everything up. Eating, smoking, taking pictures: you name it, he’s doing it on the ride even after it’s clear you’re not supposed to.
It kind of kills me to put Harry Potter down this far as I grew up with the book series, but the wait times which continue to plague the ride knock it down quite a few pegs. I am happy that I got to ride twice for the price of one wait time when I went most recently, but the lack of a single rider option aggravates me. The technology and sets are definitely superior to what was used for Back to the Future the Ride, but are more or less comparable to Spiderman the Ride.
Despite liking Harry Potter more than Spiderman, the single rider and the cheesy effects of the various villains trying to attack you are just too entertaining to justify any other ranking between the two. FYI, the picture is taken after Electro shocks the car. Also, keep an eye out for Stan Lee’s cameo!
- Space Fantasy
I’ve probably ridden this more than any of the other attractions due to the single rider line moving much more quickly. Well, so long as the staff isn’t ignoring people trying to get into the single rider line. It’s very charming and good fun. Also, its theme is often changed: for Halloween last year, they had a Sadako theme, while for the recently ended Cool Japan campaign, they had a Kyari Pamyu Pamyu theme (who I recently learned, courtesy of my students, is only 23; what are we doing with our lives?!), though I was unable to experience the latter due to the aforementioned ignoring.
- The Flying Dinosaur
USJ’s most recent attraction, The Flying Dinosaur still had lengthy lines even for the single riders when I last visited. The English announcements are given by someone who sounds quite similar to Neil deGrasse Tyson, though that may just be the influence of having recently watched Gravity Falls (in which he guest stars for an episode, and it’s hilarious). I found it very fun, though it is not for the faint of heart! Despite the length, the single rider line moves relatively quickly and it’s fun to listen to people scream even when you’re not currently on it. If you are truly a single rider, I found drawing and writing outlines for articles (such as the one you’re currently reading!) to be a great way to pass the time.
I always have the most fun on this, though the single rider line can move aggravatingly slowly. This is in part because single rider is ONLY for Backdrop, so of course they only have one car for that, while they have three for Hollywood Dream (the clearly inferior ride for adrenaline junkies such as myself: why face forward on a rollercoaster when you have other options?). There are five songs you can scream to while riding (of which you can select one), and your options change every so often.
Should you be able to afford a 年間パス, you can freely exit and enter whenever you like. This opens up so many options for dining at Universal City. Otherwise, the food is pretty standard theme park fare. I did enjoy the curry naan pizza I had recently, but this is seasonal. Also of note, for after you’ve digested your meals, are the bathrooms in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where Moaning Myrtle will talk at you.
Get on out there and work on your own “Best of” list for Universal Studios Japan, Kansai’s favorite theme park. And if you go before the end of August, let me know; I may just show you around.