I was so excited to go to Universal Studios Japan for two major reasons: one, I can finally visit a Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and; two, we can already say that we have been to all Universal Studios theme parks across the globe! (It's a feat that's easier to achieve than Disney, but a wonderful milestone nonetheless) Out of all the Universal Studios parks, I can't exactly pinpoint a favorite; but I can definitely say that USJ has something special about it.
Before embarking on our journey to Universal Studios Japan, we first had to pick up our Japan Rail (JR) Pass from the Umeda Station. I definitely recommend getting the JR Pass if you plan on staying in Japan for a couple of days, getting around via train, and most especially if you plan to take the Shinkansen or bullet train. That way, you can maximize the price of the train pass, which is only exclusive to tourists. It's a lot more practical in Osaka rather than in Tokyo though, due to the availability of stations nearest to famous tourist attractions.
You can get to USJ via train by getting off at the JR Universal-city station. Universal Studios Japan is a lot like every Universal Studios theme park-- there's a CityWalk, a couple of your favorite attractions inspired by the movies-- you know it. That's the reason why we chose to skip on a lot of the rides that we have seen before in other parks, and spend most of our time instead in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
FYI, you will need a timed-entry ticket to enter the WWOHP in Universal Studios Japan. You can choose to buy this online beforehand, or; head to the entrance on the day itself, get a ticket with a specified time of entry, then just come back. Navigating the USJ website might be difficult though, so if you choose the first alternative, you may want to ask for help from a Japanese friend or a travel agency. From experience, they are very strict with the timeslots, so make sure to be late nor too early. But no worries: once you're inside, you can stay for as long as you want!
Upon entering the Wizarding World, you'll find yourself in the streets of Hogsmeade. You can try the (in)famous butterbeer, eat at The Three Broomsticks, pick a wand for yourself at Ollivander's, and many more!
You can enter the Hogwarts Castle by two ways: first, by lining up for the 4-D ride, and; second, by a walking tour. The attraction simulates the experience of flying on a broomstick, which is definitely fun
(my only problem was experiencing a brief attack of arachnophobia in one of the segments but yeah). The walking tour allows you to explore the castle at your own pace, so you can pay attention to more details on set.
There's also The Flight of the Hippogriff, which is an outdoor coaster ride just beside the castle. Also within the vicinity of the iconic structure is the Black Lake, which from what I've read is exclusive to the WWOHP in Japan.
If you do decide to buy a wand, make sure to test it out! Experience the magic for yourself by casting spells on selected areas, which are all indicated in the park map. Nevermind if the queue is filled with children half your age-- you can never be too old for magic!
Ribbed top from Topshop, slip dress from Forever 21, sandals from Payless ShoeSource, hat from H&M
Once we were done exploring every corner of WWOHP, we finally exited the place and proceeded to enjoy the rest of Universal Studios itself. We decided to eat lunch at the Discovery Center in Jurassic Park-- and boy, we were in for a surprise!
The lights in the restaurant went out, then the monitors fizzed and blinked with a warning. A dinosaur was on the loose! Yes, really. A raptor appeared and went around to screech on visitors. I honestly don't know if they have this gimmick in other Universal parks too, but for sure it was the first time I experienced it. For some reason though, I actually did see something like this happening.
When we finally went out of the Discovery Center, there was also a triceratops on the loose, having a scream-off battle with a T-Rex. It was definitely, definitely fun to witness!
As per usual, we took time to catch the parade which usually showcases icons from different film franchises. But since this is Japan we're talking about, they definitely did not shy away from showing their love for Hello Kitty, and even Snoopy. It was also USJ's 15th anniversary, so the whole spectacle was performed to the tune of a very catchy jingle that highlights their theme "Reborn".
After several failed attempts at taking photos against flying confetti from the parade, it was finally time to call it a day. Before retreating to our hotel though, we decided to eat dinner at the Umeda station and drop by the Pokemon Center in Daimaru.
There were so many plushies to choose from, and they even have a "Monthly Pair" Pikachu with an exclusive design for every month!
Thanks for checking out this post! The holidays are only a few days away, so I wish you an especially magical one!