UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
USJ Co. / Goldman Sachs
Park News - (9/29/15) It’s official… Comcast is now buying 51% of Universal Studios Japan from Goldman Sachs Group and their partners for $1.5 billion to become the controlling majority stakeholder. The transaction will be complete by November.
(9/16/15) According to the Wall Street Journal, Soldman Sachs Group, the majority owner of Universal Studios Japan, along with their other investors, are said to be in talks with Comcast / NBCUniversal who is interested in buying a majority ownership stake in the Japanese theme park, which has previously been run as an independent franchise, apart from the American Universal theme parks.
(8/26/15) Hello Kitty Chucky edition? Yep... you read that right, according to ToyNews, Universal Studios Japan has teamed with Sanrio to sell a special Chucky themed Hello Kitty plush doll as part of the park's Halloween event. Follow the link to see the somewhat grim looking doll... now who's going to pick one up for my to give to my daughter? LOL!
(7/23/15) Universal Studios Japan is hosting their own version of Horror Nights. The promotional webpage is live and while in the daytime it looks like they have a fun kid-friendly parade event, after dark the fiends of the night are released. The website shows images of AVP: Alien vs Predator, Nightmare on Elm Street, Chucky, spirits from Ju-on (the original Japanese film that The Grudge was a remake of) along with something that looks like prison zombies, possibly Biohazard (Resident Evil), and an interesting one labeled R15, which apparently is a movie-rating age-limit restriction (15 and up) in Japan. I believe they calling it Trauma, or “Trauma: most fear experiment ward”. This last one sounds like an upcharge extra intense fear experience for which you have to fill out an application to become the subject for “human experimentation”.
Look for Horror Nights to take place on select days between Sept. 11 and Nov. 8.
(5/22/15) Universal Studios Japan has announced a major improvement for their Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride yesterday, stating that the ride has now evolved into a 3D ride experience. Now I just have to wonder when the Orlando ride will be converted to 3D.
(4/2/15) The numbers are in and Universal Studios Japan pulled in 12.7 million guests over the 2014 fiscal year that has just come to a close… up 2.2 million guests from the previous year thanks to the addition of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
2015 - New Sesame Street Attractions - Confirmed - (12/30/14) I’m not sure how this page translates, but it appears that Universal Studios Japan will be adding two new Sesame Street themed rides to the park’s kiddie area in March 2015. There will be an Elmo themed Zamperla Skater as well as what I’m guessing is a Zamperla Samba Baloon ride themed to what appears to be a new pink polka-dot Sesame Street character named Moppy.
I had not heard of Moppy myself and chances are many of you probably have not either, because according to the MuppetWiki, Moppy was created as an exclusive character for Universal Studios Japan way back in 2011 for the park’s 10th Anniversary celebration. Up to now, Moppy has only been seen in live shows with his friend Elmo and as a walk-around character, but Moppy even has his own store called the Lucky Spot that sells tons of exclusive Moppy merchandise. I guess Moppy has a big league following in Japan now, because he is getting his own ride now too.
According to a reader, the rough translation of the Japanese page promises that in addition to the new rides, there will be a new street show and new “close touching interaction” with the characters, as well as all new merchandise and specialty food items.
Universal Cool Japan 2016 - (9/17/15) Universal Studios Japan has announced that the “Universal Cool Japan” special event will return to the park once again in early 2016 with new and improved attractions.
Will be be an unknown attraction of some kind themed to electronic artist Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. What this could end up being, I couldn't even begin to guess while being unfamiliar with her.
Evangelion will be back again in Evangelion The Real 4D: 2.0
Attack on Titan: The Real 2 will see the return of the flesh hungry giants.
Biohazard: The Escape 2 will see a new and improved escape game brought to the park as a follow up to last year’s smash hit.
Monster Hunter: The Real - Which promises that for the first time the life-sized monsters will attack you.
2016 - Jurassic Park: The Flying Dinosaur - Under Construction - (10/5/15) A great new collection of coaster construction photos has been posted on Twitter, which you can see here.
(10/3/15) Universal Studios Japan confirmed the name of their new Jurassic Park themed B&M Flying coaster on Friday as being "The Flying Dinosaur". While it doesn't have the most impressive sounding name, the page also claims (based on rough translation) that it will be the world's longest flying coaster and feature the tallest "height difference", which I'm guessing may translate into the tallest first drop on a flying coaster as well when it opens in Spring 2016.
According to the story, Pterandons were secretly living within Jurassic Park and a research team had been working on getting them to carry an empty train for a "stable flight" experience. But these are wild animals... prone to suddenly break off and "runaway in flight".
(9/30/15) Some great new images of the B&M Flyer going up at Universal Studios Japan have been posted to Twitter HERE and HERE and HERE.
(9/23/15) OrlParkPass has posted a new update showing off Universal Studios Japan, with a focus on their Halloween Horror Nights event as well as construction on the park's new B&M Flying Coaster in the Jurassic Park section of the park.
(9/14/15) Several fun new pictures of the Jurassic Park themed B&M Flying coaster under construction at Universal Studios Japan were posted to Twitter over the weekend. Click here, here and here.
(9/1/15) The lift hill for the Jurassic Park flying B&M coaster at Universal Studios Japan is now rising into the sky, as seen in the latest photo posted to Twitter here and here.
(8/4/15) The latest construction picture posted to Twitter from Universal Studios Japan now confirms a dual-sided loading station will be used for the new B&M Flying coaster in Jurassic Park.
(7/29/15) The first sections of B&M track are now up at Universal Studios Japan in the Jurassic Park land, and does confirm that this will be either an Inverted or Flying coaster experience. More pictures were also Tweeted here, showing off more supports and rock themed footers below awaiting supports. I've never been to the park, but if I had to guess, those rocky supports would look right at home somewhere between the JP ride's splashdown pool and unload station.
While I haven't seen photos, another reader reports that it looks like the work area for the coaster is going to extend out beyond the park boundary and into a bus parking lot behind the land, though this work could possibly just be supports for the new coaster only.
A reader sent in a picture from Universal Studios Japan to our Facebook page this week showing off giant construction cranes now in the closed off Jurassic Park section of the park. Looks like construction on the new rumored coaster is in full force already.
(6/19/15) Screamscape sources have confirmed that the new Jurassic Park themed ride going into Universal Studios Japan for 2016 is better than we could have hoped… it will be a B&M Flyer. I don’t quite know how elaborate the themeing will be, but this sounds almost like a revival of the old cancelled plans once in place for Islands of Adventure that would have seen a B&M Flyer coaster built inside a giant Pteranodon Aviary structure.
Like I said, I’m not sure if the Aviary structure will be part of these new plans or not, but since a Pteranodon like dinosaur was put on the construction wall in the theme park itself, I can only assume this is the basic theme they are going for with this project. Of course a giant Aviary building also plays a big part in the new Jurassic World movie as well, this one containing Pterosaurs.
(6/8/15) Looks like our previous rumors about a new attraction being added to the Jurassic Park section of Universal Studios Japan were true. A picture of a new construction wall set up at the park was posted to Twitter the other day that features the text: "The Greatest DINOSAUR RIDE IN THE WORLD! Coming in 2016" following by the Jurassic Park logo.
When I first heard the park might get some kind of small coaster, I was thinking perhaps another family or kid friendly suspended coaster like the one in Florida or Singapore, but what if this could be the revival of the rumored concept once planned for Florida of a B&M Flyer that would fly around the inside of a giant aviary? But is there room in the Jurassic Park area for such a large attraction? Perhaps... there also appears to be a bus parking lot behind this area too that could be used as well. Of course, if you go by the literal meaning of the text on the sign, it only says "DINOSAUR RIDE" and does not confirm it as a coaster at all, so I guess we'll have to wait and see.
(3/31/15) The latest word from Screamscape sources is that Universal Studios Japan will open a new coaster style ride in the Jurassic Park section of the park. While we don't know exactly what the ride will be, the popular line of thought is that it will be similar to the small family flying coasters installed in the Jurassic Park areas in Florida and Singapore.
???? - New Attraction Ideas - Rumor - (11/13/14) So with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter now open in Japan, you might be wondering just what the park may be planning to add next. According to Screamscape sources the park has been mulling over ideas for attraction replacements for two aging attractions: Terminator 2 3-D and Back To The Future.
As I sort of jokingly pointed out a few years ago, the Back To The Future need is really in need of replacement in the next few months, simply from a story point of view, as the “future” the ride takes guests for a wild-ride through is actually listed as 2015 in the ride vehicles, and making a time-jump from 2015 to an entirely different looking 2015 world would create something of a paradox… and those are very bad according to Doc Brown. Anyway… the two attractions do however have a very similar answer when it comes to a possible replacemen… Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
While we saw the Terminator 2-3D attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood converted into a dual-theater version of the Minion Mayhem ride, it also stands to reason that the existing Back To The Future attraction building could be easily converted into a giant-sized Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction far more easily, by reusing the existing simulator car ride hardware and projection screen system already in place for Back To The Future. Universal saw much success with this plan a few years ago in the US when they converted the Back To The Future rides in Hollywood and Orlando into new Simpsons themed rides, but since The Simpsons aren’t as well known in Japan as the US, it makes sense why BTTF was left to continue running in Japan.
Meanwhile the popularity of the Minions have been growing in Japan, gaining a good foothold after the release of the second Despicble Me film, and with a third film now confirmed, as a solo Minion movie to hit the theaters in 2015, Minion mania has clearly hit Japan. In fact, pictures (here and here) of an existing gift-shop in the park being converted to have a new Minion theme were found on Twitter this week as well. So will the Minions take over Doc Browns lab or Cyberdyne? Hopefully we’ll find out soon.
(12/4/12) It has been several years since we’ve heard any kind of peep from Universal Studios Japan regarding a possible replacement for the last remaining Back To The Future ride. Previous rumor suggested that they were looking to shut it down by 2012, but so far this has not happened and isn’t even an active rumor as of late.
That said, I was watching some old videos of the BTTF ride from back in the day, and recalled a unique feature of the time machine cars used in the ride. As fans of the film series know, a primary feature of the dashboard was the three-color coded Time Circuits display, showing off your “Destination Time”, “Present Time” and “Last Time Departed”.
So when the ride starts and you jump ahead to the futuristic Hill Valley of 2015, you see that date displayed on the Time Circuits during the actual ride experience. However, a neat feature designed to make the ride seem more immersive when it first opened in 1992 is going to cause some problems in the near future for the remaining ride. As you board the ride car, riders are quick to notice that the “Present Time” listed on the Time Circuits is indeed the actual real world time in which they are in. While this was fine in the 1990s and early 2000’s... I’ve got to think that the guests in Japan are already getting a good laugh when they initial time jump is only a jump from 2012 (soon 2013) to 2015 to see “The Future!” Once 2015 comes around for real... the time traveling storyline isn’t going to make any sense at all. 2016 anyone? 2017? While Doc will say he is taking you on a trip to the future, guests will be transported back in time to 2015 instead of forward.
So in short... I think the clock is ticking away very quickly for our friends in Japan, as the caretakers of the last Back To The Future: The Ride attraction in the world. By the time 2015 comes around, it would only make sense to close the ride once and for all to create a new attraction, rather than risk a Time Paradox. And as Doc. Brown would be quick to point out, "The results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe!... Granted, that's the worst-case scenario. The destruction however might be limited merely to our own galaxy."
(8/23/09) This rumor may be a bit ahead of it’s time, but one source suggests that Universal Japan is ready to retire their version of Back To The Future as well by 2011/2012. As The Simpsons are not really really well known characters in Japan (as they are in America), porting in a clone of the same Simpsons ride is not an option. However the rumor we’ve heard is a bit of a stunner, as our source claims that they may be looking an at option to license Batman from WB to create new simulator ride themed to The Dark Knight. DeLorean… meet The Tumbler. Now of course the really odd question is... can Spiderman and Batman co-exist in the same park, being from two different comic book companies? Maybe not in the USA, but I do think it would work in Japan where they are both viewed as just American Superhero comics. Plus we know that at one point in time Universal was attempting to build a Batman themed attraction for Islands of Adventure when the park was first just a concept.
???? - Future Brand Expansion - (3/19/15) According to the Hollywood Reporter, Universal Studios Japan may be looking to build a second park in the Okinawa area, possibly taking over the site of a US military base slated to relocate in the near future. In an effort to keep things different, this new park would pick new themes, possibly tied to the more tropical island theme of the area, rather than the Hollywood and Japanese movie themes used in Osaka.
(8/14/14) According to this article the owners of Universal Studios Japan are seeking potential partnerships with three major casino groups if a law to legalize casinos is approved. They claim to be in talks with MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Group and Genting Bhd. (aka: Resorts World). This wouldn’t be to add a casino to the existing park, but would include building a new park as part of a larger resort project, with possible sites in Tokyo, Osaka and Okinawa. They also claim they are seeking a partnership with Chinese based theme park operator, Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) for possible new park projects in China and Indonesia (Jakarta).
As an interesting side note: USJ also mentions that in July the park pulled in 870,000 guests, a record number of visitors for the month, due to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
(7/7/14) Disney & More reports that owners of Universal Studios Japan are considering putting in a bid to build and operate a casino complex. One theory is that they might partner up with others to build a new second theme park concept along with a casino / resort complex on nearby Yumeshima, a man-made island about 3km away from the existing theme park. Currently Casinos are not legal, but are part of a proposal that has been submitted to the government as a way to stimulate more tourism and local investment.
(2/21/14) According to the local news the operators of Universal Studios Japan are now looking into building new theme parks at new sites both in Japan as well as other nearby countries. Space at the existing Universal Studios Japan theme park is at a premium as it has been built out to nearly the limit, and being surrounding by many large industrial buildings and facories make expansion of the current site extremely difficult.
USJ Co. is apparently already looking at another site elsewhere in Japan, away from the current Osaka / Kansai region, as well as the Kanto region where the Tokyo Disney Resort is located. If they build a new park in Japan they are likely looking to the Tohoku region or Kyushu region or Okinawa Prefecture.
Internationally they may also be looking at three large cities: Taipei in Taiwan, Jakarta in Indonesia and Mumbai in India.