Disneyland might be the happiest place on earth, but we’re going to fight right back and say that Universal Studios can be your happiest place on earth too. We’ve been to Universal Studios countless times, and the magic doesn’t ever die because there’s always something new to see! When we visited the park again at the beginning of this year, we were just in time for Cool Japan. If you’re into Japanese pop culture, you’ll know that Universal Studios Japan hosts Cool Japan every year, where there will be attractions and themed food from some the biggest and best games and anime series from, well, Japan.
Aside from listening to Harry Potter and the Minions speak in Japanese, you can now delight in all your favourite childhood games and anime series as they take over Universal Studios Japan. This year, Universal Cool Japan has brought back one of the original franchises when it first debuted – Monster Hunter. Joining the Monsters are big hitters Final Fantasy, Detective Conan, and (yes, yes, YAS) Sailor Moon. There’ll be rides, loads of photo opportunities, and tons of cute themed food to feast on.
Here’s the entire lineup for this year’s Cool Japan and what you can expect when you head to Universal Studios Japan.
The Moon Princess has taken over a small corner of our heart, and is there to stay for good. It’s been 26 years since she first appeared, and we’re still going crazy about her. From makeup brushes, umbrellas, lipsticks, smartphones, and even bath bombs, Sailor Moon has graced pretty much everything we can think of.
The Sailor Moon The Miracle: 4D ride will only be open on 16 March, but everything we know about the ride makes us wonder whether we should book a trip back soon. The 20 minute ride will follow an original storyline, and riders will join the Sailor Soldiers as they battle evil right here in the park! If that doesn’t sound exciting, we don’t know what will.
As we visited the park on the opening weekend, the 4D ride was not open yet and we had to console ourselves with a magical photo shoot at the Digital Photo Studio. Choose your favourite Moon stick and strike your best Sailor Moon pose as you channel your inner Sailor Soldier. Just like most fans, you’re probably going to pick the Moon Stick (we’re not going to lie that we also had a really long and unnecessary discussion over who should get the honour of holding it).
Bring home your photo for ¥1800 in an exclusive Sailor Moon photo frame, where an adorable staff will present it to you with an enthusiastic ‘Sailor Moooooon’ with a cheerful smile guaranteed to make you laugh regardless whether you’re a hardcore Sailor Moon fan or not. All photos can be downloaded online, and you’ll also get access to exclusive Sailor Moon wallpapers for your phone.
Left to right: Sailor Moon Compact Cake, Sailor Moon Power Cake, Sailor Moon Drink, Sailor Moon Cafe Plate
Now that your heart is filled with happiness, it’s time to fill your belly… with more Sailor Moon stuff! Make a stop at the Beverly Hills Boulangerie for some Sailor Moon-themed snacks and food. Light and fluffy, the Sailor Moon Power Cake(￥800/ slice) makes a good tea-time snack. The Sailor Moon Cafe Plate (￥1,490) is more substantial, coming with a croissant in the shape of Sailor Moon’s trademark crescent, a salad, and a creamy soup with a dipping bread in the form of a kitty.
Left: Cute Universal Rod, Right: Luna Ramune Case
For the extreme hardcore fans, we’re going to advise you to preorder your Sailor Moon Express Pass. Not only will you get shorter queues to the attraction, you also get some limited edition goodies too. The Standard Pass (¥2,000) will get you a Luna Ramune Case to keep all your little knick-knacks, while the Sailor Moon Express Pass (¥4,400) also tags on an additional special face-to-face Miracle Greeting from Tuxedo Mask.
A little sneak peek at the merchandise booth
While you’re there, you might as well stock up on your ever-growing Sailor Moon memorabilia collection. There’s going to be shirts, bags, jewelry, and even candy. If you ask us, we’ll say that the Cutie Universal Rod, which looks exactly like the Cutie Moon Rod but with a Universal globe in place of the pink sphere, is the coolest souvenir yet.
Despite the word ‘final’ in its name, it looks like we’re not going to be done with Cloud and his adventures anytime soon. The RPGs and movies all never fail to impress with their detailed imagery and intense storylines.
If only you could pick sides in this battle.
The Final Fantasy VR Ride combines a rollercoaster experience with VR technology to bring you to the frontline of Sephiroth and Cloud’s intense battle. With Moogle leading the way, you’ll be immersed into the fantastical world of Final Fantasy. The entire experience was boosted by the inclusion of the roller coaster – the VR made us forget that we were actually moving, and the part where you fall down a cliff felt so real because it was. The only downside was that we didn’t really know what was going on at first because everything was in Japanese but with so much to take in with the 360 graphics, the story didn’t really matter as much.
Food is life, even in Final Fantasy.
When you exit the ride, you’ll pass by the Popcorn and Churritos food cart where they are peddling collectible Chocobo Popcorn Buckets (¥3840) and Cactuar Churitos (¥550). Churros are part of the whole theme park experience, so this will be your chance to grab the limited edition sweet treat that is only offered in the park during Cool Japan. Those who hate sweet things might want to give the Cactuar Churritos a miss as the diabetes-inducing churro is a sweet-tooth’s heaven in disguise.
Left: Chocobo Popcorn Buckets, Right: Cactuar Churritos
We all know about Detective Conan and are (secretly) jealous of his deducing skills to solve mysteries that has us befuddled. Unsurprisingly, Universal Studios Japan chose to bring Detective Conan to life through a mystery of their own and yes, you get to solve it too.
Race against time and everyone else for bragging rights to be the first to solve the mystery.
Detective Conan: The Escape takes place in a four-storey complex, and you’re competing with at least 50 other groups of people to solve the mystery. The Escape Mystery comes with a performance that is unfortunately also in Japanese, but the game, which you play through an iPad, is available in 6 different languages, so there’s no need to worry about language barriers here. The clues all transcend language barriers too, but you’ll have to really think outside of common sense here.
Split into two groups to solve clues – teamwork is key here
Having gone through the entire escape game (or completed one quarter of it at least), we’ve got some tips for you if you’re attempting the game yourself. Take note of everything in your surroundings and everything that you’re given as it might come in handy as a clue later, and (most importantly) don’t think you have a lot of time. We spent way too much time on the first four clues, meaning that we didn’t even manage to solve half the clues. Be prepared to really crack your brains, because you should never underestimate anything to do with Detective Conan.
If you’re a huge fan of escape room games, Detective Conan: The Escape will definitely be a memorable one to add to your experiences. Detective Conan: The Escape requires an additional ticket, which you can pre-purchase online or as part of the Cool Japan Express Pass.
Left to right: Haibara (mixed berry), Amuro (apple & caramel), Conan (Strawberry)
Once you’ve solved the mystery (or not depending on how fast you are), treat yourself to a Conan crepe (¥690) at Lombard’s Landing.
The biggest mystery at the Detective Conan Live Mystery Restaurant is not Today’s Special.
If you’re still living off the adrenaline from the escape mystery, you might want to try your hand at another mystery. Also at Lombard’s Landing is the Detective Conan Live Mystery Restaurant where you can feast on a luxurious four-course meal as one of the guests at a fine-dining restaurant. That’s not all you get though; there’ll be unexpected surprises in the form of a mystery and you’ll have to solve it to finish the rest of your meal in peace. Each meal will cost you ¥4,980, but if that’s what another chance at getting to be Detective Conan is going to cost us, we’ll happily fork over the cash.
The super popular RPG game where you get to hunt gigantic monsters in endless barren landscapes still remains one of the top choices for gamers. One of the original attractions, Monster Hunter: The Real brings you into the world of monsters, where you get a walkthrough experience with your choice of weapons.
Don’t worry, they won’t bite (we think).
Just in case you thought this was a game (like us) since the only
staff hunter leading our pack was speaking Japanese, we’ll just give you a heads-up that this is a huge photo opportunity for cult Monster Hunter fans. You’ll be given a cube to hold that will activate four different weapons depending on how you hold it – choose from a Long Sword, Bow Gun, Gun Lance or Great Sword. Remember to strike a cool battle pose so that you get to bring home a cool photo souvenir and not look like you’re sitting prey.
Obviously we didn’t know what was going on. DO NOT BE LIKE US.
You can get your Monster Hunter: The Real photos for ¥1800 on your way out, where you’ll bring home a physical copy of your photos in an exclusive laminated photo frame and digital copies for you to share on Instagram.
You need energy to go on all that hunting!
Hungry from all the quests? The Monster Hunter food cart sits just at the exit of Monster Hunter: The Real – you can’t miss the fire-red truck with those huge symbols. You can get an entire leg steak for ¥1,980 and pretend that you’re feasting on your kills, or delight in with a steaming hot bowl of Felyne Pawprint Omelette Rice (¥880). Wash down your meal with a Great Recovery drink (¥600), a matcha latte that will warm you up right down to your feet on a windy day.
Left: Felyne Pawprint Omelette Rice, Right: Great Recovery Drink
Entry to Universal Cool Japan is included in your normal Universal Studios Japan entry ticket, which you can easily book through Klook. They offer 1 day and 1.5 days passes depending on how long you want to spend in the park, and you can pick up your tickets at the airport or just show an e-ticket. Of course, the 1.5 days passes would be ideal – you can use the first half of the day when you enter the park at 3pm to do all the rides in the park, and the full second day exploring all the attractions in Cool Japan.
Our biggest tip is of course getting the Cool Japan Express Pass. You might think, why do I have to pay extra for an express pass when I’m already paying so much for my ticket? We’ll tell you why; it’s to maximise your time in the park. We went on an off-peak day during an off-peak season, and the queues were at least a 1~2 hour wait. Imagine how terrible the lines will be when it’s peak season! There are two types of Cool Japan Express Pass currently available on Klook, and the best one to get is the Express Pass 3 as it includes entry to Detective Conan: The Escape, which you’ll have to get separate tickets for so you might as well get it with your Express Pass.
Express Pass – Cool Japan 2
Includes fast entry to
- Final Fantasy XR Ride
- Monster Hunter: The Real
Express Pass – Cool Japan 3
Includes fast entry to
- Final Fantasy XR Ride
- Monster Hunter: The Real
- Detective Conan: The Escape
If you’re a first time user of Klook, you’ll get an additional $5 off your first purchase if you use our discount code during checkout -‘NYLON5’!
What Else To Remember Before Hitting The Park
Let’s move on to the entry of the park itself. Because Japanese people are secretly as kan-chiong as we Singaporeans are, they literally run the moment they make it past the front gates. That being said, don’t just run and follow the crowd. Plan your route carefully because you don’t want to end up at a ride that you don’t even want to ride at all.
Original image from Universal Studios Japan
The only map that you’ll see on the Universal Studios Japan website is all in Japanese, so we’ve done you a favour and got all the Cool Japan attractions labelled in English for easy mapping. The black arrow along the bottom of the image is the main park entrance, so if you are one of the early birds, you should be able to get to your favourite ride first. If you’ve got your Express Pass 3 online, you don’t have to worry about rushing to get your Detective Conan tickets. For Final Fantasy fans, your first stop should be at the Final Fantasy Food Cart to get your hands on the super coveted Chocobo Popcorn Bucket before heading to the ride.
Sailor Moon fans should plan their trip after 16 March as that’s when the ride will open, and we expect that everyone will be thinking the same thing, so you might want to either get the Express Pass (the one including Sailor Moon will be released closer the date) to beat the queues. Or go a couple of weeks after it’s open when the initial rush is over.
Book tickets through Klook and use our code “NYLON10” to get $10 off for first-time users!
– Valid for redemption till 31 July 2019
– For first time bookings made via Klook’s website and mobile app only
– The promotion code on this card entitles the user to $10 off all Klook activities, with a minimum spend of $80, excluding the Klook Christmas Gift Card, Japan Rail Passes, Universal Studios Japan Admission Tickets and Express Passes
– Promo codes are valid for one time use per user only
– Promo code is applicable for Singapore users only