Universal Studios Japan cracking down on ticket scalping


Staff Writer

Rampant ticket scalping has angered the operator of Osaka-based theme park Universal Studios Japan so much that it’s taking a zero tolerance approach: use of all resold tickets will be banned starting Nov. 1.

The measure, announced Friday, means all tickets obtained through third-party businesses and individuals will be invalid at the park, where attendance has topped record highs in recent years and some tickets have changed hands for prices several times more than their face value.

“We have decided to implement an all-out ban on reselling of tickets and eradicate acts of reselling themselves, to protect guests from disadvantages that arise from unjust resales of tickets,” USJ said in a statement. “Tickets worth some ¥1 billion in total are believed to have been resold so far.

“Guests have been forced to pay unnecessary costs, while scalpers have pocketed unjust profits. It is a great nuisance to all visitors who feel they want to experience the park at a reasonable price.”

USJ spokesman Jota Takahashi told The Japan Times on Monday that the park operator will invest “hundreds of millions of yen” to create a system where online scalpers will be identified and blacklisted. Visitors will be turned away if the QR matrix barcode on their ticket shows up as invalid when scanned at the park’s entrance and attractions.

The crackdown will involve dozens of staffers, including those at an outside company contracted by USJ, Takahashi said.

Tickets subject to the scalping ban cover not only admissions but also those for special areas and express passes.

All tickets purchased through unofficial channels, including online auction sites and reselling agents, will be unusable.

“In one instance, a pair of tickets for Express Pass Five (which allows visitors to get quicker entry to five attractions), which are priced at ¥14,400, have been resold for ¥100,000,” Takahashi said. “Ticket scalping has hit proportions that we can no longer ignore.”

Takahashi brushed off a suggestion Friday by major online ticket merchant Ticketstreet to help create an official ticket reselling system that would not allow unjust profiteering, saying it would be “completely ridiculous.”

Ticketstreet President Kei Nishiyama released a statement Friday arguing that the park’s move isn’t fair to people who have purchased tickets but for some reason can’t use them. USJ tickets are not refundable.

Nishiyama said his Tokyo-based company will cooperate with the planned crackdown on condition that it is accredited as an official reseller.

More than 6.5 million people visited USJ in the first half of fiscal 2015, a record high and up 18 percent from the same period the year before.

The new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, as well as Universal Cool Japan, an event themed on Japanese manga and anime, are credited with leading the surge.

  • ishyg

    How and why are people buying from scalpers? Booking a ticket online isn’t rocket science, and you can line-up for a ticket as well in the park. If it’s only for the express pass then USJ should just adapt the Fast Pass system of Disney parks. Make the damn express pass free. Other than that I think it’s ridiculous if regular tickets are being bought with absurd prices.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Even with the economy in the slow lane, there are people who are willing to spend 100,000 yen for a day at a theme park. Guess money and brains don’t necessarily go together.