After our visit to Osaka on a rainy day (post in Spanish), the weather was kinder during our day at Universal Studios Japan. It was a memorable day, full of fun and magic!
|The impressive reproduction of Hogwarts at Universal Studios Japan|
Harry Potter, Spiderman, Jurassic Park and a lot more at USJ!
The day of our visit the park opened from 9:00 to 20:00, so we got up early to be one of the firsts to enter. To get there took the JR Yamatoji line around 8:15 from JR Namba to Imamiya, then we took the JR Kishuji Rapid Service to Nishikujo, and finally we took the JR Yumesaki line to Universal City. Thus we arrived at the park around 8:45.
|People waiting at the tickets booths, not as much as se expected|
It was a cold and windy Tuesday, so there wasn’t as much people as we expected and the queues to buy tickets weren’t not very long. As we had already purchased our tickets to Universal Studios Japan online we went straight to the park entrance. We strongly recommend to purchase the tickets in advance because if the tickets were sold out in the pre-sale, there wouldn’t tickets to be sold in the park entrance, and you also get to skip a queue.
|A member of the staff scanned our QR tickets and we got inside the park without any problem.|
Truth to be told, although the queues were long, the USJ staff is very efficient and quick, so we got inside the park minutes after nine o’clock. We were excited and eager to explore all that the park could offer us. The first thing we did was get familiar with different areas identifying the attractions that interested us -the ones which we had reserved with our Express Pass 7-. We also enjoyed the great scenery.
|Great scenery at Universal Studios Japan|
As in most theme parks, USJ entrance is a large shopping street where you can find merchandising from all the park areas. We walked the American sector (New York, Hollywood and San Francisco), where you can find its distinctive buildings, classic cars, typical 50s dinner, etc. A little later we found ourselves in mythical Jurassic Park area, which you simply can’t miss. You can also find Amity Village, where we can see the magnificent shark hanging on the pier. For the kids you can’t miss Universal Wonderland, it’s designed for a young audience but it’s worth to wander around to see what a cute scenery they have ^_^ And last but not least, the famous Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is limited due to its high demand. There are only two ways to get in it: to buy a ticket in advance so you get a time-slot for your visit or to dash to that area and queue in order to get in.
In our guide on how to buy ticket for Universal Studios Japan online we explain the types of existing express pass. We opted for the Express Pass 7 , which allows you to skip the long queues for certain attractions. In our case we had quick access to the following attractions:
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – The Ride 4K3D
- Space Fantasy – The Ride
- Choose onee: Hollywood Dream – The Ride, Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic or Shrek’s 4-D Adventure
- Choose one: JAWS or Back To The Future – The Ride
- Choose one: Jurassic Park – The Ride, Terminator 2:3-D or Backdraft.
We began by The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, it was unexpectedly one of the rides that we liked most. It’s an 4D ride where you accompany Spidy in one of his adventures with a spectacular chase that makes you feel you’re really there with our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman
There’s a figure of Spiderman hanging upside down in the New York area. We couldn’t help and got a picture with him, after queueing for a short while.
|Our picture with Spidy ^_^|
11:00 was our time-slot for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so we headed to that area a little before. There was a lot of people, so many that you couldn’t see the ground, you almost couldn’t walk. The scenery is amazing, you really feel as if you were in Hogsmeade, with the snow covered roofs and Hogwarts in the back. Alas, there was almost too many people to enjoy it as we would wanted.
|Hogsmeade’s roofs covered in snow|
The Flight of the Hippogriff was stopped because of the bad weather so we thought we wouldn’t be able to ride this little roller-coaster. We then saw a short queue (less than 10 minutes) to the entrance of Hogwarts so we headed there not knowing what it really was. It turned out to be a walk across the castle. If you are not a big fan of Harry Potter you can skip it as you can see almost the same while queueing for the Forbidden Journey.We finished our tour inside the castle with a rush because it was time for our The Forbidden Journey ride. This attractions is a unique experience than allows you to share an adventure with Harry Potter. By the way, you can see how the ride works here, it’s very interesting
|You can see the Sorting Hat inside Hogwarts|
After the Forbidden Journey, we went outside the castle and found out that the Flight of the Hippogriff was working so we got on it. In my humble opinion, it’s not worth it, it’s a roller-coaster for little kids :-/ As I have already stated, the Harry Potter area was full of people, there were even queues at the doors of the shops. The shops are amazingly detailed but we thought we would loose too much time so we sadly got outside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
|Queues at the shops of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter|
We had read good reviews of Hollywood Dream, a roller-coaster that encloses a big part of the park. Sadly for us, it was out of order all the day due the bad weather 🙁 Someday we will go back to USJ and we will be able to ride it!
And we mean it: it’s worth to visit USJ again, as the park is being constantly updated with new attractions and new shows. As an example, during our visit there was a temporary area called Universal Cool Japan -it was closed in May 2015- were you could find the following attractions: Evangenlion 4D, Shingeki no Kyojin – The Real, Monster Hunter – The Real, Biohazard – The escape. Right now, you can visit Universal Cool Japan 2016 with updated versions of the aforementioned attractions and a new one: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
|A funny pose of two young visitors ^_^|
|A fierce dragon from the Monster Hunter area|
Lunch time was approaching. As in the Tokyo Disneyland, apart from restaurants -which are usually a little expensive- there are several food stalls. We ate turkey… it was not a great choice, it was not very good, but it was cheaper and we didn’t waste as much time as we would had wasted in a restaurant. After the lunch… it began to snow!
It just snowed a few minutes, but it was very cold. Then we had our best idea, we went to the Jurassic Park area. There you could rent a raincoat for the ride but we thought it wasn’t necessary -although a member of the staff told us “wet, wet”-. BIG MISTAKE! We ended up soaking wet!! We had to run searching for some Sun rays ¬_¬
When we had dried a little, we went to the Back To The Future area. The attraction is a little outdated but if you’re a fan of the films, you will enjoy it.
|Back to the Future‘s Delorean!|
Afterwards, it was Space Fantasy turn. I loved it! It’s like the Disney’s Space Mountain but a lot funnier, beautiful and spectacular.
By that time we already had consumed our Express Pass, except for one attraction. We still had hope that we could climb on the Hollywood Dreams (the two alternative attractions weren’t interesting for us). Alas, the Hollywood Dream ride was stopped all day.
|Hollywood Dream – Backdrop was closed for all the day 🙁|
Our last show was Terminator 2: 3D. It’s a very creative mix of real action and film that takes place in a theatre. It may be a little outdated but it’s still fun.
|Tatiana Connor and the Terminator|
We had some time left before the start of the parade, so we took the opportunity to visit the largest park store, located on the shopping street, as I mentioned earlier. In the store there is a lot of Harry Potter merchandising -we do not know if there’s all the merchandising that you can find in the Harry Potter area but at least here you can see more calmly-. While I was in line to pay, Pere was wandering around the shop and a Japanese family asked if they could take a picture with him. So now there is a Japanese family with a photo of Pere as if he was some kind of celebrity! ^_^
|Harry Potter’s magic wands|
The day ended with a magnificent parade: the Magical Starlight Parade. It was cold but we enjoyed a great finale full of fairy tale characters..
|Alicie’s adventures in wonderland… and no, we weren’t in Disneyland|
After the long day, we headed back to the hotel to rest, as a the next day we would visit the Arashiyama’s amazing bamboo forest.