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U ready to open Japan theme park

Toxic chemicals stalled bow

TOKYO — Universal Studios Japan has completed its 170 billion yen ($1.45 billion) theme park in Osaka and is prepping for its March 31 opening.

Work on U’s first overseas park started in October 1998 but was held up when toxic chemicals were found on the waterfront site.

The park, which expects 8 million visitors a year, will have 18 attractions including favorites from the U.S. such as “Jurassic Park — The Ride” and “E.T Adventure,” plus new attractions, including “Snoopy Studio.”

Park concerns

Universal faces two challenges in Japan.

The first is attracting tourists to Osaka, a commercial and industrial city in western Japan that loses tourists to neighboring Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.

The second will be competing with Tokyo Disneyland, the most visited theme park in the world. DisneySea opens next door later this year and combined attendance at the parks is expected to reach 25 million a year.