Visiting Japan alone is expensive. And combined with a theme park visit to Universal Studios Japan (USJ), it is going to be even more expensive.
Fortunately, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that can save you hundreds of dollars when visiting USJ in Osaka. Whether it’s your first time or not, you’ll love my USJ crazy frugal tips.
1. Visit on a weekday or off-season month.
Japan has 18 National holidays and observances! So it’s best to avoid visiting on those dates.
I recommend the Time and Date website as they have the most updated list of public holidays in Japan.
2. Take advantage of discount coupons from Voyagin.
Voyagin coupon codes are very helpful when buying several Studio Pass tickets or Express Pass tickets for your family or group.
3. Visit the park after 3 p.m.
The Twilight Pass is a late-entry ticket and it is 5,800 JPY per adult (compared to 7,600 JPY regular Studio Pass ticket).
Twilight Pass is a great option if you are visiting during the off-season or less congested months. Twilight Pass is only available at the entrance gate.
4. Buy your tickets online in advance.
Buying your USJ tickets online also saves you time as it’s the best way to avoid the long lines at the park’s ticket booths. And when you buy tickets online, there’s a chance of getting discount coupons (as I mentioned above).
5. Arrive with a full stomach.
Theme park’s restaurants are always expensive. So before you head to the park, eat a big breakfast.
6. Pack that refillable water bottle in your bags.
Tap water in Japan is safe to drink. And water fountains are scattered inside the park.
7. Pack some snacks too (but know the policy).
This is the best way to save money. Visit a convenience store before arriving at the park.
Grab some delicious Japanese snacks such as onigiri (rice ball), sandwich, and small bentos. These are very easy to tucked at the very bottom of your bag.
The staff doesn’t normally check bags if there’s an extremely long line at the entrance.
8. Skip the food that looks cute.
Be warned: If the food looks cute or Instagrammable, it probably tastes terrible, especially those character buns. Trust me.
I was fooled many times. So stop wasting your money on these “kawaii” food.
If you choose to eat inside the Universal Studios Japan park, try Finnegans Bar & Grill, Park Side Grill, and Louise NY Pizza Parlor which are all in the New York area. They usually have big servings.
10. Eat dinner outside the park.
Restaurants outside the park are also plenty, which is located in Universal CityWalk. The cheapest one is the family restaurant called Saizeriya.
11. Buy healthier treats.
Instead of sugary snacks that are usually expensive, try a healthier alternative food cart indulgence such as the turkey legs for 500 yen or Italian oden (one-pot dish) for 690 yen.
They don’t cost much but both are very tasty.
12. Skip that Butterbeer.
1,250 yen for a non-alcoholic drink? Hmm. No thank you.
And yes, it tastes terrible. Just take a look at these butter beers left by visitors on the trash inside The Wizarding World.
If you still want to flaunt that Butterbeer on your social media, just get one 1 butterbeer for the entire group.
13. Buy your character outfit ahead of time.
If you feel like dressing up, check out Amazon for a cheap Harry Potter costume (this one for adults and this one for kids). They are at a premium price when bought inside the Wizarding World merchandise shops.
14. Bring or borrow that “fun” hat or T-shirt from Disney.
If you’ve been to a Disney Resort and bought a souvenir like Disney hats or character T-shirts, wear it on your USJ visit. That’s just how to avoid the temptation of buying a new one. Or borrow from a friend if you don’t have one.
15. Get those souvenirs outside the park.
For some, they think their USJ trip won’t be complete without buying a souvenir. Get them in Universal CityWalk just outside the park. Souvenir stores there are a little bit cheaper.
Do you really need that souvenir?
Try the Marie Kondo method. Hold the souvenir that you’ve been wanting to buy. Close your eyes. And think of your wallet.
Now ask yourself: Does this spark joy? Remember, it’s the experience you remember later, not the souvenirs that end up shoved in your drawer.
16. Buy raincoats from 100 yen store.
If you’re going to splash zones, buy your raincoat before your visit at a 100 yen store. Raincoats in USJ are inside the vending machines and they cost 400 yen each.
17. Pack extra clothes.
If raincoats are not your thing and you really want to get wet, pack extra clothes to avoid buying unintended clothes inside the park.
18. Stay at budget hotels in Nishikujo Station.
If staying overnight in Osaka, Nishikujo Station is just one stop from Universal CityWalk by train. Stay around that area to save money from transportation.
19. Read blogger experiences to be inspired.
You can read my guide for more tips when visiting USJ.