My family of 3 paid $650 to enter early and skip the lines at Universal Studios Japan. Similar perks would've cost us double back home in Florida.

amanda posing in front of hogwarts at universal theme park
I'm at the Universal theme parks in the US all the time. Amanda Adler
  • My family of three recently paid $650 for upgraded tickets to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.

  • Having early access to the park and express passes for rides saved us hours of waiting in lines.

  • Tickets to Universal parks in the US can cost twice as much, so it was a great value.

As a longtime Florida resident, I've been to Universal Studios Orlando many times. So, on a recent trip to Japan, my family decided to explore the Universal theme park in Osaka.

We only had one day to see everything — and it's one of the most popular theme parks in the world — so we wanted to make the most of our vacation. The best way to do that was splurging on early entry park tickets and express line passes for all of us.

Here's everything we accomplished during our visit.

Park tickets with early entry were surprisingly cheap.

entrance to universal japan theme park
We paid extra to get into the parks before opening. Amanda Adler

I purchased our park tickets through the third-party website Klook. My husband and I paid $84 each, and my 10-year-old's ticket cost $58.

The tickets were about $20 more than buying directly from the Universal website, but they included early entry into the park. That meant we were able to access the theme park via a special entrance 15 minutes before the official opening time.

Getting into the park was a smooth process.

universal japan employees standing near the entrance with a safety sign
Employees held signs reminding the crowds to walk, not run. Amanda Adler

Although quite a few people were entering early, it only felt crowded for a moment as people raced toward the park's most popular attractions.

But overall, it was organized and easy to navigate.

My family took advantage of early entry to ride the "Demon Slayer"-themed roller coaster.

boy standing in front of statues at the entrance to the demon slayer roller coaster at universal japan
My son loves anime, so he was excited about the roller coaster. Amanda Adler

My son is a huge anime fan and wanted to ride the park's "Demon Slayer"-themed roller coaster. I'd heard that the popular ride frequently has a five-hour wait, so I was skeptical.

We headed for this attraction first to beat the crowds, and it worked — we only waited about 10 minutes.

Later in the day, the ride was displaying a staggering 300-minute wait time, so getting in early was definitely worth $20 a person.

After our first ride, much of the park remained empty.

entrance to minion park at universal japan decorated for easter
Even popular lands, like Minion Park, were empty.Amanda Adler

We made it through our first attraction so quickly that, upon exiting the ride, the walkways throughout the park were still empty.

This gave my family even more time to enjoy low wait times as we explored popular areas like Minion Park.

We also paid $140 a person for express line passes.

enterior shot of despicable me minion mayhem ride at universal japan
We walked right on Minion Mayhem.Amanda Adler

Universal's express line passes allowed us to skip the line at seven of the most popular attractions, including Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.

They also granted us speedy access to the rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and popular roller coasters like the "Jaws" boat ride.

Even though the line-skipping passes were more expensive than our actual park tickets, they saved us a ton of time.

One of the biggest perks was reserved entry to Super Nintendo World.

boy posing in front of super nintendo world in universal japan
Our passes came with an entry time for the popular land.Amanda Adler

Accessing the park's Mario-themed land can be stressful because visitors need to secure a same-day reservation via the Universal Japan app.

Timed entry into the land fills up fast. But prearranged access was included with our express passes, so we didn't have to stress.

Zooming past the long lines for the land's attractions saved us hours.

big stone statue inside koopas challenge ride at universal japan
Koopa's Challenge is probably the most popular ride in the land.Amanda Adler

Wait times for the main attraction in Super Nintendo World, Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge, topped 100 minutes during our visit. Skipping past this wait with our express passes saved us tons of valuable time.

We also zoomed through the kid-friendly Yoshi's Adventure, which had an hourlong wait in the standard line.

We enjoyed meet-and-greets with the land’s characters before big crowds grew.

boy posing with toad at universal japan
My son got to take a photo with Toad.Amanda Adler

Walking right onto the rides in Super Nintendo World gave us plenty of time to play the land's interactive games and take photos with characters.

Toad is my son's favorite.

Our longest wait was for lunch.

fun star rice dish at nintendo land cafe in universal japan
The star-shaped rice was very cute.Amanda Adler

Rather than waiting in line for attractions, my family queued up to enter the popular Mario-themed Kinopio's Café.

The eatery had a line before it even opened. We waited about 45 minutes to order and an additional 20 minutes to get our food.

The theming was incredible and the food was cute to look at. But for $81, we found the meal a bit pricey and underwhelming.

Because we saved so much time, we were able to leave the park early.

crowds walking through universal japan with umbrellas
We lucked out because we got to skip a rainy afternoon in the park.Amanda Adler

Rainstorms rolled through the area in the early afternoon and dampened our fun.

Due to the weather, the park's daily parade was canceled, and ride wait times stretched even longer.

Since we'd already ridden everything we hoped to experience, we left for the day around 3 p.m. It was nice to return to our hotel before even bigger storms drenched the park.

Overall, our $650 tickets ended up being an incredible deal.

globe sign at universal studios florida in Orlando
Universal Orlando is usually more expensive.Amanda Adler

In total, we spent almost $650 on early entry park tickets and express passes. As a Florida resident who lives only a few miles from Universal Orlando, I'm used to paying much higher prices.

When I priced out our three single-day, one-park tickets with express passes in Florida for the same day we visited Universal Japan, it came to a whopping $1,211.

In the end, we loved the opportunity to experience the unique offerings found in Japan, and it felt like a great value compared to the US parks.

Read the original article on Business Insider