Despite a deepening recession at home, the Japanese appetite for US-style theme parks remains undiminished. According to Daniel Jensen, vice president, Universal Studios Japan (USJ), the company's Osaka-based park has "hit a home run" since its March 31 opening, with admissions expected to exceed eight million before the end of the year.

Jensen said that USJ parent Universal Studios is in talks with officials in Beijing and Shanghai to build a similar park in China. The success of USJ -- Universal's first studio theme park outside the US - "can be duplicated elsewhere," he added. Jensen claimed that USJ has contributed $1.9billion (Y232bn) in direct economic benefits, and over $3.6billion (Y450bn) in indirect benefits, to the greater Osaka area, including the nearby cities of Kobe and Kyoto.

Most of USJ's 18 attractions are the same as those in the US, including rides based on Terminator 2, ET, Back To The Future, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Wild Wild West and Waterworld.

The Osaka city government, with a 25 percent stake, is the largest investor in the $1.6billion park, followed by Sumitomo and other local businesses and Universal Studios.