Universal Studios Japan Sets New Attendance Record, on Course for 14M Visitors

Universal Studios Japan 2 H 2014

The Osaka theme park, taken over by Comcast for $1.5 billion last year, also attracted more than a million overseas visitors for the first time, with its Harry Potter attraction continuing to pack them in.

Universal Studios Japan (USJ) set a new attendance record Monday, with 12.7 million visitors, and 24 days to go until the end of its financial year on Mar. 31.

The park registered a record 12.7 million attendance last year, with attendance boosted by the $444 million Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, which opened in July 2014. The visitors who took attendance to a new record on Monday were greeted by 21 characters, including the Minions from Despicable Me, Snoopy and Japan's Hello Kitty.

The current year has also seen a record number of customers from overseas, in the midst of a tourist boom that brought nearly 20 million people to Japan in 2015, including a million from the U.S. and nearly 5 million from China.

"Around 10 percent of our guests now come from abroad, mostly Asia. This is the first year that foreign visitors topped the million mark," USJ Co. spokesperson Johta Takahashi told The Hollywood Reporter.    

USJ was bought by Comcast's NBC Universal in a $1.5 billion deal announced in September. The theme park had been operating under license since it opened in 2001.

A series of 15th anniversary events due to kick off on the 18th of this month should take attendance at USJ to around 14 million for the year. USJ follows the Japanese corporate financial year: April to March.

Japan's Sankei newspaper carried an article on Saturday claiming that a new Nintendo attraction, already announced by the two companies, would open at USJ in 2020 and detailing the location and cost: $350 million (?40 billion).

USJ's Takahashi said that while plans for the attraction were moving forward, the details in the article were incorrect.

There have also been reports that plans for a new USJ theme park on the southern island of Okinawa have been nixed since the Comcast takeover, but USJ declined to comment.