By Geoff Day
If you are like me, when you heard that Universal Studios Japan was opening a Wizarding World of Harry Potter area at its theme park in Osaka, you couldn't stop yourself from ecstatically jumping around and promising yourself to check it out as soon as possible. Which is what I finally got the chance to do this Halloween.
My friend and I decided to take the 2 days pass since the Harry Potter World is new and we thought the queuing time would be really long. We were definitely right. I recommend that you either do the same (especially if you want to see the rest of USJ's attractions as well) or that you go in a few years when, maybe, the hype will have calmed down a little and you won't have to wait 3 hours for the main ride like we did (clearly not an option for most!).
The main ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, located in the castle and in that humongous white building (you can see it behind the castle in the first photo), was the best ride of my life. Of course, Harry Potter is, to me, what religion is to the Pope. And I also know I am not the only one in that situation, so I am sure most of you will really enjoy this ride. Keep in my mind that it moves around quite a lot so don’t eat too much before. My friend got quite dizzy afterwards. But I promise that it is otherwise perfect, I really got the impression that I was in the world of Harry Potter, the single row of benches make it seem like you are alone in the ride and it is quite long (though I never wanted it to end) so I was very pleased with it. Even with the 3 hour wait.
The other ride offered is The Flight of the Hippogriff, which is actually a normal family roller coaster with straw-covered cars shaped similarly to a Hippogriff. To be honest, unless you can’t live without trying everything, you can probably overlook this ride if the wait time is longer than 20 minutes. It is surprisingly fast, but lasts only around 20 seconds and doesn’t feel as special as the Forbidden Journey. Actually, its waiting line where you can see Hagrid’s hut and a Hippogriff’s nest were way more interesting than the actual ride.
Other attractions include Hogsmeade Village where you can buy a ton of goodies, see funny props (like moving bludgers, owls or Sirius’ wanted poster) and eat at The Three Broomsticks restaurant. As can be expected, everything is quite expensive, but since it was a once in a lifetime experience for me, I still paid ¥1,100 for a normal and boring fizzy drink that they call Butterbeer because I wanted to bring the plastic Butterbeer cup back home.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter already exists in Florida, but the Black Lake only exists in Osaka so make sure to take lots of pictures. Another special feature in Osaka is the live owls that you can see being walked around by their caretakers.
When you first get to the theme park in the morning, you might not be able to simply enter the Harry Potter area, you would first have to get a ticket (free) with a certain time on it at another location near the Jaws and Jurassic Park rides.
Prices: 1 day pass: 6,900 with taxes 2 days pass: 11,740 with taxes
Check the website for opening hours
Find out more about Universal Studios Japan
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