Universal Studios Japan

DAY 8 · Osaka

98

The wizarding world of Harry Potter- Let the magic begin

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We got up early today for Universal Studios Japan as we wanted to get the earliest timed entry to enter The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The queue at the entrance was massive when we got there, and it was just 8 am. I was patiently queueing in one of those lines when I realised we weren’t moving at all. It was only then Dennis said, ‘The park opens at 9…’. What?! 😱😱😱 The park opens at 9 but you made me come here at 8?! Okay it was not exactly Dennis’ fault because you really have to get there at 8am if not earlier because the queue was seriously massive! But just think about this, if everyone was to ditch his kia su-ness and arrive punctually at 9, everyone gets an extra hour sleep and avoids being burnt under the sun! Win-win, right? Seriously what is wrong with you people!! 😡

Some USJ tips:

  1. Waiting times for rides average around 1-2 hours each. To make the most of your day (and entrance fee), try to avoid visiting during weekends / school holidays.
  2. Check the opening times for the day (it varies). However USJ often open their gates up to 30 mins earlier than the scheduled opening time, so arrive early.
  3. Pre-purchase your entry pass online to save time queuing for tickets on the day. Unfortunately you can’t do this via USJ’s English site (as of 2015), so you’d have to do it via their Japanese site. Refer to this guide.
  4. Timed ticket into Harry Potter World – For crowd control, only a certain number of people are allowed into this part of the park at a time. These run out very quickly, and even if you’ve purchased an entry to the park you will need to get this timed ticket separately to enter Harry Potter land. Try to get one as early as possible before they run out.
  5. Express passes allow you to skip the queue for some rides (and in some cases gives you guaranteed entry to the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter). It’s worth it just for the time saved.

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Luckily they actually opened their gates early at about 8.30 am. Once we scanned our tickets, Dennis growled, ‘RUN!’ LOL 😂😂😂 Sure enough, the ‘kia su jing shen’ in the park was strong. Everyone was running towards one direction – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You don’t need a map to know where to go, just run like everybody else! I have never ever ran in a theme park like this nor have I actually ran for whatever reason in a long time now. Gosh the kia su-ness made you do anything. We managed to get a free timed entry tickets at about 9am, hence first stop – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

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No time for pictures! Since the queue gets significantly longer throughout the day, we zoomed past everything towards the signature ride – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! It was a 70 minutes wait when we got to the queue – and that was considered quick! The two Taiwanese guys behind us were so surprised and thought that 70 minutes could not be possible. I continued to talk with Dennis in English and pretended I didn’t understand Chinese so that I could continue eavesdropping on them hehehe. 😁 That was my only entertainment for that hour (oh but the view of Hogwarts was awesome too!). One of the guy even sang ‘哈利波特~~~ 一个美好的经验~~~’. I almost burst out laughing 😂.

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Once we got in the castle, we kept our belongings in the lockers provided and joined the queue inside the castle. The queues take you through famous places within Hogwarts castle like the Gryffindor common room, Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Dumbledore’s office, Herbology classroom etc. The interior was very well decorated, much like what you see in the movies, with moving pictures, the fat lady, sorting hat and all. There were even light projected Harry Potter characters in 3D talking to you, only that they were all in Japanese! It would have been perfect if I could understand them. But what was I expecting, this is Japan!

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Now here comes the interesting part – the ride! Each “enchanted bench”  sits 4 and we were given 3D glasses while on it. It looked like a tame ride at the time with the benches floating slowly along the path. However, as soon as we sat, they pulled this harness down over us and that’s when you realize – no way this is going to be a slow-moving ride …..!

The ride was bumpy and it was thrilling as your feet were left dangling while you swept past Hogwarts, a Quidditch game, dodging dragon, fighting dementors and Voldemort. The ride was perfect – if it did not stop halfway through! TWICE! LOL! I guess it was to allow physically-challenged tourist to board. Don’t get me wrong, I was perfectly fine with the interruption for a good cause. It was just that we weren’t told anything and thought the pauses were part of the ride! So I wasn’t particularly satisfied with their signature ride and thought the pauses were a killjoy. Hence I gave it a score of 8/10 when I got down the ride. I thought we were on our way out when we were moving along a corridor which looked utterly familiar. All of a sudden, we were ushered on the ride again at the end of the corridor! I was like, ‘What?! It has a part 2?! Amazing!!’ But no of course not, don’t be silly. 😂 We were given a chance to board the same ride again due to the interruption earlier. So now I experienced this ride twice, back to back, and this time without any sudden pauses. It was awesome!!!

Verdict: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 10/10 Hands down woohoo! 👍

 

Watched the Frog Choir in Hogsmeade. And of course had the Hogsmeade special – butterbeer! YUUUUM!

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Then we visited Ollivanders for our wands. You get to experience the process where a wand chooses it’s wizard owner, just like the books. But he charged us too much for a wooden stick so we had to say no. Hehe just kidding. You can see wands replicas from the movies here, like the one here is Voldemort’s.

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Strolling down Hogsmeade like I’m Hermione Granger.

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Then we had to say goodbye to the wizarding world. Time to get on to other rides in the park! First thing we go for was Biohazard The Real 3, which was a limited time thing in USJ at the time. We had to get a timed entry ticket for this, which are given out on a first come first serve basis and usually runs out early. I complaint a little on how friendly the Umbrella Corp staffs looked hehe.

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We were given our timed entry ticket and an English instruction on how to play the game.

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It said ‘you will not be allowed entry if you are carrying luggage’ and we thought our backpack was considered as a ‘luggage’ since the staff pointed us to the park’s coin-operated lockers when we asked her about our backpack. Thing is you do not have to go through all that trouble. Carrying your bags with you is fine. Not knowing that, we kept all our belongings in the lockers and only carry our phones, wallets, park map and the tickets with us (we bought the Express 5 tickets so it had to be scanned at each ride entry).

 

Then it happened.

 

So, have you ever arrived at a theme park an hour before it opened? We did. 🙋

Have you ever ran across the theme park early in the morning among the massive crowd?  We did. 🙋

Now, have you ever lost your express passes? We certainly did.

 

So, it all started when Dennis had to shoved the tickets in his pocket as we kept our bag in the locker. Then we headed to Mel’s Drive-In for lunch.

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It was only when we were about to leave when we realised it. I checked with him whether he has got all the tickets. And Dennis answered gravely, ‘No.’ I was like, ‘Stop messing around’, and he was like, ‘I’m serious’. O.M.G. 😱😱😱

Our first instinct was to search around the cashier in Mel’s. No luck. We then ran to the guest services counter, hoping to reprint it or something. Bad luck that we ran into a woman who can’t really speak English and she insisted us to go to the ticketing counter. We were like, ‘NO WE DO NOT WANT TO BUY A TICKET!’ I have no idea why she didn’t refer us to someone with better English since she could not understand us anyway. 😰

 

Then we met our saviour. Another young girl who spoke perfect English! Thank God! We showed her soft copies of our purchase evidence and she gladly helped us to retrieve our tickets. Before she was done, a good Samaritan somewhere found our lost tickets and returned them to the guest service! OMG! Our tickets were home printed ones just like any ordinary A4 paper which looked like trash you know. Thank you whoever you are for not chucking it in a bin!

Okay enough tragedy. Back to Biohazard The Real 3 …

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I had really high expectation for this one because Dennis and I are great fans of Resident Evil, both the movies and the games. The game involves travelling through streets filled with zombies and basically surviving. From the instructions it sure sounded like a real life version the game, having limited ammo, having your health points in check and being able to revive by finding herbs etc. We were geared up with a pistol, an umbrella corp armband, and a Google-Glasses-like goggle that overlays augmented reality (eg: blood when you hit a zombie, ammo count, health etc) on the the already very elaborated environment. How cool was that! I was also attracted by the title ‘0% survival’. So I’m gonna be the first survivor!!!

 

So, the plan was clear. Shield myself by hiding behind other members in the party. Do not be left behind. Save on bullets and let the others spend their bullets first. What? You have to sacrifice some people for the greater good. Haven’t you been watching The Walking Dead? I have also been practicing my ‘elbow him in the chest, kick him in the stomach and stab him in the eye’ routine (inspired by Biohazard trailer) just in case one of the undead got close to me.

 

Then it’s our turn! A very enthusiastic lady with dark inks on her face slammed the door open and ushered us in. She explained something to us in Japanese so I couldn’t understand, but I think it would involve ‘Escape from here alive, find the cure, shoot them in the head’ and things like that. (Found out later, here’s the story: Rescue choppers will arrive in 10 mins, so you and the group should fight your way to the pick up point!) While she was explaining, one of the zombies barged in and attacked her! Of course I was always in standby mode and shot him down in no time boozah!

 

Then we were ushered through from one room to another, one shooting scene to another with zombies coming at you, some being more bad ass with gears and weapons. You’ve got to appreciate the level of detail that’s put into this, cross-hair on your projected display even turning red when you aim at a zombie; the recoil in your pistol with every shot, it is as good as it can get. I thought I was surviving very well as my health point was still in green. Then we were sent into a room where we ditched our pistols and picked up a rifle each, who’s the boss now eh!

Swarms of zombies just keep throwing themselves to our group at this point and finally a big bad ass giant boss mutant zombie (Nemesis) appeared and used his flamethrower against us! I instinctively ducked to avoid the flame and was happy to see that my health point was still in green! Dennis said, ‘Oh game over’ but I was like, ‘Nono I survived!!!’. Then he pointed to the larger screen which showed the trademark game over scene for the Resident Evil series – You are dead.

 

What?! So everybody dies??? It was a designed walkthrough all along and not a real life game as I thought it was. No words can describe how disappointed I was. I felt like I was cheated. 😡 By the trailer and the instruction leaflet. Anyways.

Obviously no camera allowed inside, but here’s a sneak peak of the incredible experience

Verdict: Biohazard The Real 3: 8/10. Still a very good experience and you get to try on Google glasses! Would have been better if it was easier to adjust the strap and all. Zombies were very into their acting. Hey ya undead! Good show!

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Sorry not much photos from here – I guess we were too tired for photos.

 

Next up, backdraft. We were brought into three different movie sets where they explained how some movie special effects were created. Unfortunately this was done in Japanese; I was so bored (well I couldn’t understand a single thing) that I silently gave 0 mark to this attraction. Okay I was silent until Dennis asked me, ‘how was it?’ I went, ‘LING FEN! (zero marks)’ Then we were brought to the last room where there were some serious flames going on that I had to shield my face fearing that some accident might happen and I’ll lose my face 😂

Verdict: Backdraft 7/10. Shit those flames were real 😱

 

Then we went for Back to the Future – The Ride, where we were seated in a car facing a large screen which was shared among 4 or 5 other back to the future car. The ride looked really old and all, but it was quite bumpy and I actually felt a little nauseous hehe.

Verdict: Back to the Future – The Ride 6/10.

 

Next up was one of the signature ride – The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman – The Ride 4K3D. This 3D ride was particularly awesome, with great graphics and thrilling soundtracks. I can’t describe much with words but definitely have a go on this.

Verdict: The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman – The Ride 4K3D 9/10.

 

Then, we went back for another round of Biohazard as it was included in our express passes. We were hoping that it wouldn’t be the same ink-painted lady who guided us just now as she seemed very pushy and keep shouting, ‘Go! Go! Go!’ but man it was the same lady. This time we were the oldest in our party, other members were very cute and timid teehee. And now that I know every nook and cranny I was calmer than before. I paid close attention to all the details now – like how the zombies reacted when you shot them and how they stay dead after you shot them. I waved goodbye to one of the lady zombie. Dennis’s shoe was stepped on by the big badass one. And the lady guide was too bored that she pretended to be a zombie approaching me with extended arms at one point – which I shot her gladly. Hehe. 😁

 

When we got out from Biohazard it was just in time for another round of Minions Water Surprise Party! I really wanted to shoot someone in the face with a water gun now but was too stingy to buy one hehe so we just watched the parade at the sidewalk, thinking we wouldn’t get much action. We couldn’t be more wrong. We were totally drenched after the parade! But was glad though because it was so much fun! The minions were too cute! I remembered there was a chubby black shirt Japanese boy sitting all alone right opposite of us at the pavement and he seemed rather grumpy. He looked like a baby thug, holding his watergun tight, serious face and revengeful glare. When the shooting session began, he stood up and started shooting the dancers in the face like a Terminator. He wasn’t laughing or smirking or anything, his face was still the same grumpy one. 😂😂😂 Kiyooooo!!

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USJ sells very nice frozen pineapples and mangoes! We tried the frozen mango and it was amazing! We then got on Space Fantasy – The Ride, which looked really childish and had this very cute song which tricked you into thinking that it’s a child ride. I let my guards down when I went for the ride and man I was wrong again, it was a “spinning” fast coaster ride. It kept spinning and spinning and spinning and it went on reaaaaally fast. I got dizzy and had to rest at a cafe after that. 😵 (I really liked this ride though, nice view throughout with the planets and galaxy, think Interstellar)

Verdict: Space Fantasy – The Ride 8/10

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Then we got back to The Wizarding World (we bought the express pass which allowed us another entry) and used our express pass to get our third ride on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (yea it’s that good!). We finally got time for more pictures and had dinner at the Three Broomsticks like any other wizards and witches would.

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Had Dennis’s favourite churros before we leave ✌️

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We decided to ditch the parade that night because I was seriously too tired to wait for it. Bid our farewell.

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Ha! Found something interesting on our way back! Tamade! Actually what they sold here was really cheap! Found this white chocolate koala biscuit and also bought some seaweed, Momo water for about 100 yen each. LOL so we kinda skip the parade – and went grocery shopping that night 😂

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