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Universal Studios Japan
By Audrey Goh

Visitors to Japan will soon enjoy the fanciful facilities of Universal Studios, which is set to open in Osaka come spring 2001. To commemorate the first studio theme park outside the United States, a gala groundbreaking event was held on October 28, 1999. This move to include Japan is part of Universal Studios’ plans to globalize its unique brand of theme entertainment.

Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is part of the city’s redevelopment project to create a waterfront community for the 21st century. Built on a 54-hectare (140 acres) site in the city’s West Waterfront District, the theme park will combine some of the most popular rides and shows that include the Jurassic Park Ride, Back To The Future -The Ride, JAWS, and the E.T. Adventure. There will also be new attractions designed specifically for Japan. This includes the Woody Woodpecker’s Animation Celebration, Snoopy’s Sound Stage Adventure, and Snoopy’s Playland. There will also be other attractions featuring the history of Universal Studios motion pictures as well as a nighttime spectacular in its lagoon. Universal will follow the footsteps of its pioneers, the Universal Studios Hollywood, which opened in 1964, and Universal Studios Florida in 1990. Together, they have attracted over 100 million guests from around the globe.

USJ will be a ‘star-studded’ area due to its successful groundbreaking ceremony. Its President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer, Universal Studios Recreation group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Cathy Nichols, and motion picture star Arnold Schwarzenegger was present during this ceremony. Nearly 1000 VIP guests from the national and City of Osaka governing bodies, the project consortium, and Universal Studios, Inc. attended the event. Done in true Japanese spirit, the ceremony was preceded with a Shinto ritual at the new park’s site in Konohana Ward, Osaka. A spectacular, pyrotechnic-laden evening celebration was staged at Tempozan Harbor Village. Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg was ‘present’ via a special video presentation and even his well-loved cinematic creation dropped by - E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial appeared from a mist-shrouded spaceship amidst a massive colorful aerial fireworks display.

USJ Co. Ltd. will operate the Universal Studios Japan project. It is a joint venture operating company that was established by 39 shareholders, including The City of Osaka, Universal Studios, Inc., The Rank Group Plc., Sumitomo Metals, Sumitomo Corp., Hitachi Zosen, and other prestigious Japanese companies.

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