Universal Studios Japan reopened its doors Monday to annual pass holders living in Osaka Prefecture after the popular theme park was shut down for about three months due to the spread of the coronavirus.
According to USJ LLC, the operator of the park in Osaka city, western Japan, local pass holders were required to register in advance for the so-called “soft opening” of the park, which will gradually expand operations.
From June 15, residents of the prefecture who are not annual pass holders but made an advance purchase of special studio passes will be allowed to enter.
General operations will begin on June 19, with admission being limited to annual pass holders nationwide and residents of the six prefectures in the Kansai region — Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, and Wakayama — with other passes.
Japan completely lifted its state of emergency in late May but the government has been asking citizens to refrain from crossing prefectural borders until June 19.
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The park gates opened shortly before 10 a.m. Monday and guests seemed to appreciate the smaller crowds than usual on the first day of reopening.
“It is not as lively as usual with a small number of visitors, but it’s fun to ride attractions without the long wait,” said a 20-year-old woman.
“I was really looking forward to riding roller coasters,” a 14-year-old girl also said.
The park, however, faces a difficult task ahead as it needs to come up with new ways of entertaining guests while avoiding the “3Cs” — confined spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings — amid the pandemic.
Visitors are required to wear a face mask and undergo body temperature checks to enter the park, as well as keep a proper distance from each other while waiting for attractions.
They must also sit in every other row in theaters and on ride attractions in line with social distancing measures.
The theme park centered around movies closed on Feb. 29 as part of efforts to stem the spread of the infectious disease.
Meanwhile, Oriental Land Co., the operator of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, has said it will extend the closure of the parks due to concerns over the virus.
Tokyo Disney Resort has been closed since Feb. 29 as well.