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The TDR Explorer Guide to Universal Studios Japan

TDR Explorer Guide to Universal Studios Japan (2020)

Learn my best travel tips for a stress-free adventure to Osaka (Updated for 2020!)

UPDATE: An updated 2023 version is coming early next year!

Universal Studios Japan is one of the top attractions when visiting Osaka and the Kansai area. With a perfect balance between thrill-rides, family-friendly attractions, seasonal events, painfully cute merchandise, and delicious food, the park makes for an unforgettable experience. With the ever-changing variety of offerings, this makes Universal Studios Japan a must-visit for theme park enthusiasts and tourists alike.

For many Explorers, Universal Studios Japan is intimidating or perhaps even seems impossible to visit. It isn’t the 4th most visited theme park in the world for nothing. The crowds, the language barrier, transportation, hotel options, and tons more becomes overwhelming to think about. Without proper planning and research prior to your visit, you could miss out on aspects of the Park or end up going home feeling frustrated.

Over the years and many visits to this fantastic Park, I’ve gained extensive knowledge on how to experience the best of what Universal Studios Japan has to offer. I’ve crammed what I know into this 200-page digital travel guide.

From the best times to visit, to which restaurants are delicious, how to beat the crowds, and how to experience the best attractions in one day (all while saving money), my guide gives you the confidence and tools to go from knowing zero about Universal Studios Japan to navigating the Park as if you’ve been visiting since it opened in 2001.

And, because chances are you’ll be visiting the cities of Osaka and Kyoto as well, I have dedicated chapters showcasing you the best of both cities.

TDR Explorer at Universal Studios Japan

My name is Chris — aka TDR Explorer — and I made the jump to live in Tokyo in 2013 and have made a point of visiting Universal Studios Japan as often as possible. I want you to have the best possible time while visiting Universal, that’s why I created this hefty resource.

This guide is meant for anyone who wants to maximize their time while at Universal Studios Japan and wanting to experience the cities of Osaka and Kyoto. Whether it’s your first trip or thirty-third, you’ll learn ways to use your time effectively.

What’s in this guide?

  • A detailed breakdown of Universal Studios Japan – A list of all the attractions, restaurants, and entertainment, including many tips and recommendations.
  • Best times to visit – A detailed breakdown of every month of the year, plus I’ll tell you the best times to visit to avoid crowds, the heat, the cold, and anything else I can think of.
  • Hotel recommendations – No matter your budget, I have recommendations for hotels ranging from the high-end to the budget no-frills accommodations and everything in between.
  • Custom Park map – Professionally crafted custom Park and a transportation map to help you visualize the layout.
  • Character greetings – A list of current character greetings and how you can meet your favourite character(s).
  • Merchandise explained – Where to buy all that cute merchandise you see on Instagram.
  • Osaka & Kyoto Tips – Dedicated chapters on both Osaka and Kyoto. Including what to do, where to stay, what to eat, and ideal itineraries.
  • Transportation – A thorough explanation of how to use transportation in Japan, how to get to Universal Studios Japan from the airport, getting around Osaka, and travelling to Kyoto.
  • Suggested budgets – If you’re travelling on a budget or embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I’ll give you a range of budgets so you know how much to save.
  • Multiple itineraries – Different itineraries depending on who’s in your party and how long you’re staying.
  • Food recommendations – I love to eat and I want your culinary experience to be memorable. This includes food at Universal Studios Japan, throughout Osaka, and in Kyoto.
  • Practical information – Tips and advice for both Japan, Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, and Kyoto, because things do go wrong sometimes.
  • Japanese phrases – Easy-to-learn phrases relevant to your time at Universal and throughout Japan. Learn how to ask for the front row!
  • Japan A to Z – An explanation of how everyday things work in Japan. Tips for everything from what adapters you need for your electronics to how to use a Japanese toilet.

Start Your Planning Now!

I’ve packed a wealth of knowledge into this guide, which will help you go from dreaming to planning to visiting. This downloadable PDF is simple to read on any of your devices, and you can even use it offline without an internet connection.


Should I get this edition or wait for the next?

The current edition is updated for 2020!

We plan to have a new edition each year to give you the best and most up-to-date information. Similar to other travel guides, each edition is a separate purchase.

What’s the difference in the information in this guidebook compared to this website?

While our website and blog offer information on Universal Studios Japan, it doesn’t offer food recommendations for every restaurant, multi-day itineraries, suggested budgets, custom Park maps, and easy-to-digest and detailed explanations on important aspects of Universal.

The website also doesn’t have general information for travel to Japan that every traveller needs to know (visa, Japanese toilets, earthquakes, etc). There’s so much information in this guide that it wouldn’t fit in multiple blog posts.

As a bonus, this travel guide has chapters dedicated to the city of Osaka and Kyoto. These two chapters are full of my tips and recommendations from personal experience.

Are there photos in this guide?

I wanted to keep this guidebook as portable as possible while being jam-packed with information. For that reason, I decided not to include photos. This allows us to keep the file size down so you’re able to have it on any device without worrying about space (or even re-downloading it without using up your data). If you’re looking for photos, I post our best ones on Instagram.

However, I wanted to make sure you were able to find your way around as easy as possible, and that’s why you’ll find professionally created, custom maps to help you visualize the Park and to simplify transportation.

What makes you an expert on Universal Studios Japan?

I’ve been living in Japan for over four years and have visited Universal Studios Japan since 2003. I have numerous visits under my belt and love learning new ways to maximize my time at Universal. Anything I recommend in the guidebook are my personal favourites, and I stand by them.

Is this available in print?

At the moment, this guidebook is only available as a downloadable PDF.

Is this available to download from Amazon, Kindle Store, or any other platform?

At the moment, this guidebook is only available through our website. You can put this e-book on any device that is able to display pdf files. Here’s how to add it to iBooks on your device.

If I have questions, comments, or concerns, can I contact you?

Of course! The best way is through email:

For more information about refunds and delivery read our notification of Specified Commercial Transactions Act.