Universal Studios Japan is a theme park in Osaka, one which you really would not want to miss when you are in Osaka, as I think it is what that makes Osaka interesting…
Don’t blame me, err, I was in Osaka and Kyoto earlier in the year and I truly loved Kyoto.. and I did find Osaka somewhat disappointing…. Except for the Universal Studios Japan…
Even then I messed up some part of my visit because I initially thought Universal Studios Japan would be like Universal Studios Singapore and open at 10 am… so I was there bright and early at about 9.15am after having to change like 3 trains from where I was staying only to find……. So muchhhhh people there already…
Apparently, Universal Studios Japan opens as early as about 8.30am…… huhuhu…
Be forewarned that Japanese people love cute things and theme parks.. and a lot of them buy the annual pass and go to the park several times a year… so anyway when you finally enter Universal Studios Japan, you see many people start running like the living dead are chasing them..
This would be because you will need to get your (free) timed ticket entry pass to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so unless you do not want to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you really have to get this ticket! It’s free and you need it or you will be denied entry there…! It is so super crowded in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that it’s the only attraction that requires you to get a (free) timed ticket entry pass. To get one of the passes, you also have to queue for quite a while…
Psst… shhh…. park rules say that you can’t bring your food into the Universal Studios Japan. But you can.. just smuggle some buns or a bottle of water in, they do not check your bags at the entry. Afterall, you should know how freaking expensive Japanese food can be, especially in a theme park! Bring a water bottle as there are water fountains you can fill up as well..
I was there at the Universal Studios Japan late since it was 9.30am and there were throngs and throngs of people already… and because I was on a tight budget, I did not invest in the Express Passes, so the queue was super long and horrendous..
The first place I visit was naturally the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.. it is a section where visitors can enjoy a complete immersive experience based on the popular series by J.K. Rowling. It sure was thrilling walking through the ‘forest’ before you get to Hogsmeade..and Platform 9 ¾, where the Hogsward Express billowed steam…
My daughter and I walked through the town passing by Honeydukes, Hog’s Head, Ollivanders, Three Broomsticks until we came to the Hogwarts™ castle which have been recreated on a grand scale with meticulous attention to detail. It was definitely an incredible sight…
We passed the massive castle gates and joined the long, long, long, long queue to enter Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Queueing itself took us 1 ½ hours….sighhh…..before we got to enter the castle.. You are told to put your things into a locker and you head to the ride, passing by talking and moving portraits (just like in the movie but they were talking in Japanese though), and then up the dimly lit stairs, passing by classrooms and eventually Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor™ common room, the Sorting Hat and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom before arriving at an amazing floating candle room with moving “benches”. You will get strapped into the benches departing on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™.
Touted as “the ride crowned the world’s best attraction in the past for five consecutive years” using state-of-the-art 4K3D technology for an experience of unparalleled realism, you will feel like you are soaring across the vast sky above Hogwarts™ at high speeds and experience the intensity of the thrilling immersive realism as the Golden Snitch™ races by as if within arm’s reach. This unrivaled awe-inspiring attraction and its magical journey full of thrills and excitement is sure to be unforgettable.. The only thing odd about this would be that Harry Potter and the cast speak Japanese here…huhuhu
We got out from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in an euphoric mood and decided to head to the next ride, just next to it, which happen to be the JAWS ride….
Again, the queue was horrendously long… it took another hour plus before we finally got into our boat for a nice relaxed excursion, with our captain speaking in Japanese, of course..…
It starts out in a relaxing ride and suddenly news comes in that there is a gigantic, man-eating shark on the loose… and then it appears, throwing everyone into the depth of fear.
This boat ride features the great white shark from the movie Jaws. It lasts about 7 minutes, and passengers are continually threatened by the big creature. There is fire and smoke, rapid acceleration and violent movement along the way.
You could get wet from splashing water, so make sure to keep your cameras and smartphones away as they do not allow you to take photos anyway….
After that ride, I was reluctant to go queue for more rides, so we decided to sightsee and walk around the park instead, and my daughter decided she wanted to have some snacks at the Louie’s NY Pizza Parlour.. the food is not halal and there are pork in some dishes, so you do have to be careful with what you order, since my daughter and I are not too particular, as long as there are no pork in our food, we ordered a vegetable based pizza ..
Then we headed to New York and Hollywood section to wait for the Universal Studios Japan 15th Anniversary ‘Reborn’ or rather Re-boooooooorn float parade….
The parade starts around 2pm or so and 5-10 minutes before it starts, the dancers will appear and the park attendants will come out to teach you some simple steps to dance too as well… it is somewhat cheesy but well… could be fun…. Then the colourful ‘mardi gras’ kind of floats appears representing different parts of the world and it celebrates the 15th anniversary of the park.
You can see characters such as Snoopy, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Hello Kitty and more. Reborn float parade includes TONS of confetti and foam and could very well leave you soaking wet and hopefully with a big smile on your face. The street is taken over with dancers and characters equipped with confetti guns, and foam canons fired from different angles and leaves behind a big mess….huhuhu
After that, we wandered around the theme park, and take some opportunities to grab a selfie or pictures with the characters around as well as wander around the park until evening…
We wanted to go for more rides but were terrified of the long queues already, though my daughter managed to go for the Terminator 2- 3 D ride….
Anyway, I learn that you really should invest in those Express Pass, if you can afford it to enjoy the rides better..
You have the option of purchasing a pass that works for 4 or 7 Universal Studios attractions.
Here are some Express Passes sample for 4 Universal Studios attractions….
Universal Express Pass 4 – Standard
Choose one ride from each of the following 4 categories:
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in 4K3D, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman – The Ride 4K3D, Backdraft or JAWS and Terminator 2: 3-D or Jurassic Park
This pass is inclusive of the timed entry ticket to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter…
Universal Express Pass 4 – Thrill
Choose one ride from each of the following 4 categories:
The Flying Dinosaur, Hollywood Dream – The Ride, Backdraft and Jaws or Jurassic Park
This pass is however not inclusive of the timed entry ticket to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter…
We did have a great time there and was exhausted after that, so we headed back to our airbnb to rest….
Getting there, head to JR Osaka Station, and from there take the JR Osaka Loop Line/ Yumesaki Line to JR Universal City Station then walk towards the Universal Studios Japan…