Crowds Update: Universal Empty, Thousands Reject Park After Axed Opening

in Universal Studios

A bustling street scene at Universal theme park, featuring people walking, vintage-style buildings, and a towering silver statue of a film director.

Credit: hung.ch via Flickr

Despite recent reports, one Universal theme park is reportedly pretty empty right now.

Like all theme parks, Universal’s locations across the globe all have their ups and downs in terms of attendance. As Walt Disney World Resort suffered its attendance dip in the spring and summer of 2023, so did Universal Orlando Resort (even if it didn’t make the headlines quite as often).

Hagrid's Motorboke Rollercoaster Islands of Adventure
Credit: Universal

Typically, its parks are most crowded over the holidays or when they’re celebrating a new opening. In the case of Universal Orlando Resort, this will likely be the case when DreamWorks Land opens in June and when Epic Universe debuts in 2025.

Further afield, this will also almost certainly be the case when Universal Studios Japan opens its new land, Donkey Kong Country. Originally scheduled to open this spring, this was rearranged to late 2024 in April.

Crowds at the entrance of Universal Studios Japan
Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr

An unintended consequence of this move, however, is that the crowds that should’ve flocked to the park this spring have also been rescheduled – despite the fact it’s currently Golden Week (AKA the busiest tourism period of the year for the likes of Universal and Tokyo Disney Resort) in Japan.

In previous years, wait times have stretched for hours at the Osaka theme park, with the likes of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and SUPER NINTENDO WORLD bringing in the biggest crowds.

Guests dressed as Super Mario characters with a Team Member at Universal Studios Japan
Credit: Universal Studios Japan

This year, however, the park has proven far emptier than usual (at least, by Universal Studios Japan’s standards). According to USJ 1, past visitors have reported receiving emails from Universal Studios Japan encouraging them to visit during Golden Week – something that’s never been needed in the past.

#USJ Golden Week crowd situation

May 3rd (Friday, National Holiday)
The event was broadcast live from a helicopter on Kansai TV’s “News Runner.”

■ At first, the program showed footage of the entire park, which was completely empty, but then the show’s host asked, “Which areas are crowded?” and showed a close-up of the Nintendo area, broadcasting fake news that Universal Studios Japan was overcrowded.

 

Multiple videos shared on X (formerly known as Twitter) show the park looking decidedly bare. Popular attractions, such as the Jurassic Park (1994) roller coaster The Flying Dinosaur, have experienced wait times as low as 10 minutes.

Universal Studios Japan
Where is everyone going during Golden Week?

Even more confusingly, however, local news outlets are reportedly providing inaccurate coverage of the park’s crowd situation during Golden Week, claiming that certain areas – including SUPER NINTENDO WORLD – are “overcrowded.”

As well as the delay of Donkey Kong Country (which will also open at Epic Universe in 2025), Universal Studios Japan is currently experiencing a reasonable amount of closures.

Jurassic Park: The Ride is in the middle of a two-year closure, Space Fantasy – The Ride has been closed indefinitely since January 2023, and 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. It also has refurbishments lined up for JAWS and The Flying Dinosaur over the next few months.

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

In another attempt to boost attendance, the park introduced a new kind of ticket last month that will allow guests to visit the park just for the evening. 

According to USJ 1, the Night Pass is available for visits between May 10 and September 1, 2024. This will offer park access from 5 p.m. until the park closes (which ranges from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. from May onwards).

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

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