Permanent Closures Continue: Universal Shutters Its Second Location in a Week

in Universal Studios Japan

Crowds at the entrance of Universal Studios Japan

Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson, Flickr

A second location has been marked for permanent closure at one Universal theme park this week.

Change is inevitable at any theme park, with old attractions and locations regularly shuttering to make way for new and improved experiences.

Splash Mountain's peak at Walt Disney World
Credit: Disney

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This news isn’t always best received by fans – especially those nostalgic for the parks of their childhood. Announcements that the likes of Disney World and Disneyland’s versions of Splash Mountain, Tokyo Disneyland’s Space Mountain, and Animal Kingdom’s DINOSAUR will all close sparked massive upset within the parkgoer community (although we’ll admit it; we’re still secretly hoping DINOSAUR will find a way to survive DinoLand U.S.A’s upcoming extinction).

Universal, like Disney, has had to close its fair share of locations over the years. Universal Orlando Resort’s new theme park, Epic Universe, may be adding new experiences on a previously untouched parcel of land – meaning no victims were lost along the way – but its upcoming DreamWorks Land has required the closure of Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, Shrek’s Swamp Meet, and KidZone to make it possible.

Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse Coaster
Credit: Universal Orlando

Earlier this week, another Universal park revealed the next location to close to make way for something new. As we previously reported, Amity Island Gifts will close forever on May 6, 2024.

The Jaws-themed gift shop isn’t receiving the most exciting replacement (it’ll reportedly be used to create a new seating area for Amity Landing Restaurant). However, it’s still a necessary sacrifice to improve the guest experience at Universal Studios Japan.

Jaws at the entrance to the ride at Universal Studios Japan
Credit: Universal Studios Japan

But it’s not the only Universal Studios Japan location going away for good in May.

The park has also announced the permanent closure of Characters 4 U, which will close on May 19, 2024. Currently acting as Universal Studios Japan’s Sesame Street store, its name is inspired by the park’s core four cartoon characters: Hello Kitty, Elmo, Snoopy, and the Pink Panther.

Exterior view of a Sesame Street store, featuring colorful signage and a façade resembling a city street building, with another sign that says Characters 4 U.
Credit: Universal Studios Japan

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For now, there’s no announcement on what will replace Characters 4 U. However, Universal Studios Japan regulars were quick to mourn its loss on X (formerly known as Twitter), where they hailed it as a “cute and relaxing place.”

Breaking News) #USJ “Characters for You” will cease operations on May 19, 2024. Closed

■ The name “Characters for You” refers to the four main characters: Hello Kitty, Elmo, Snoopy, and Pink Panther.
It is a medallion case.
Pink Panther merchandise was very popular
#USJファン Universal

Universal has also revealed that another location – Universal Studios Select – will temporarily close from May 20. Considering the timing, some have theorized that it will be remodeled into a Sesame Street or Jaws store, with the store already reportedly stocking a large amount of Jaws merchandise.

Beyond stores, Universal Studios Japan is currently experiencing a high number of attraction closures. Jurassic Park: The Ride (the park’s version of Jurassic Park River Adventure at Islands of Adventure) is currently in the middle of an intensive two-year refurbishment, set to wrap up in 2025.

Guests pass a dinosaur on Jurassic Park: The Ride
Credit: Universal Studios Japan

Related: Universal Park Removes All Traces of Marvel After License Expires

Space Fantasy – The Ride has been closed indefinitely at Universal Studios Japan since January 2023. Snoopy’s Sound Stage Adventure, Shrek’s 4-D Adventure, Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic, Ernie’s Rubber Duckie Race, and Sesame’s Big Drive are all closed indefinitely. Universal also has refurbishments lined up for JAWS and The Flying Dinosaur over the next few months.

The park was recently forced to close Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey due to an undisclosed technical fault. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction – which takes guests on a magical adventure through Hogwarts and its surrounding grounds alongside Harry, Ron, Hermione, and co.

A still from one of the projection sequences in 'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.' Credit: Universal
Credit: Universal

To keep guests occupied during its closure, Universal instead operated the Hogwarts Castle Walk, which allows guests to experience Hogwarts Castle without riding the attraction itself.

Last week, Universal Studios Japan also confirmed that it has delayed the opening of its highly-anticipated SUPER NINTENDO WORLD expansion, Donkey Kong Country. Originally slated to open in Spring 2024, the land (which recently appeared near-complete in videos of ongoing testing) will now debut towards the end of the year.

Do you plan on visiting Universal Studios Japan any time soon? Let us know in the comments!

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