If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Universal Studios, Hirakata Park in Eastern Osaka is the perfect amusement park for you. As one of the oldest theme parks in Japan, it’s a delightfully nostalgic experience for adults and pure, old-fashioned fun for kids.
The big wheel at Hiraka Park
Opened in 1910, Hirakata Park in Eastern Osaka is one of Japan’s oldest theme parks, located around 45 minutes from the Tennoji area. While the Disney and Universal Studios parks have caused the shuttering of many theme parks in the country, Hirakata Park probably survived because of the nostalgia factor. Where else can you ride a wooden rollercoaster? There are also several attractions where you ride blindfolded, such as the Giant Drop Meteor and Mokusei Coaster Elf.
Like any theme park worth its salt, there are plenty of seasonal attractions to keep visitors interested. Winter sees some very pretty illuminations (great for romantic dates), while they open up the swimming pool during the summer months for people to cool off. The rose garden is a perfect quiet diversion for those who need a break from the thrill of endless roller coaster rides. The usual amenities and facilities are also available: restaurants, storage lockers, first aid stations, disabled access, and ATMs across the park.
Unlike the Disney or Universal Studios theme parks, you have the option of paying separately for each ride after paying an entrance fee. You’ll do this by purchasing a card with money on it - similar to a train card - and using it to pay at each station or ride. This is pretty economical if you’re just accompanying a friend or your children, and don’t want to go on any of the rides with them. However, if you’re going to make your way through the whole park, it’s best to purchase an unlimited All Access Pass. Concessions are available for children under 16.
We wouldn’t go out on a limb to say that Hirakata Park is necessarily better than Universal Studios - it’s less glitzy and modern, for one - but the queues here are almost certainly going to be shorter, and you’ll spend less overall. Consider this a more economical but potentially just-as-fun experience for the kids when visiting Osaka.
1-1 Hirakatakoen-cho, Hirakata-shi, 573-0054
Junior high school students and older: 1400
2 years old - elementary school students: 800
Train: 5-minute walk from the east exit of Hirakata-koen Station on the Keihan Main Line.
Official Website (English)
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Inside Osaka Google map:
- Open the Osaka map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Osaka Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Osaka guide
- Check Osaka accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Osaka
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Osaka's Kansai International Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- View my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare flight prices and timings to find the best Japan flight deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, you might save money with a Japan Rail Pass – see if it's worth it for you
- Get a prepaid Icoca card to make travelling around Osaka easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world