A day at the USJ

The famous globe at the entrance of every Universal Studios
The famous globe at the entrance of every Universal Studios

Today, we will head down to the most well-known theme park in West Japan, also known as Universal Studios Japan! Although we have our very own Universal Studios Singapore, it is still definitely worth going to Universal Studios Japan as it features several exclusive rides that we do not have in Singapore. Universal Studios Japan also features a Cool Japan section where the rides are based on famous Japanese works (like the anime, Attack on Titan) or Japanese music artists (Kyary Pamyu Pamyu).

A Harry Potter-themed train carriage
A Harry Potter-themed train carriage

Similar to Tokyo Disney Resort, there are also Alliance Hotels which would facilitate a more convenient way to get to Universal Studios Japan. However, unlike the Tokyo Disney Resort, Universal Studios Japan is located pretty near the city central. From hotspots like Umeda and Namba, it takes a train ride that is less than 30 minutes!

If you take a train down to Universal Studios Japan, you will be able to hop onto a themed train that features the Harry Potter characters! It really gets you into the mood to spend a day filled with lots of fun and happiness!

The entrance ticket to USJ, celebrating its 15th anniversary
The entrance ticket to USJ, celebrating its 15th anniversary

Unlike the Tokyo Disney Resort, Universal Studios Japan does not have something like a Fastpass that can expedite your waiting time for rides without an additional cost. Instead, you may like to get a Universal Express Pass. There are varying prices for the pass and you could choose a pass based on which ride you are most hyped up for.

As I’m not a huge fan of roller coasters, I did not get the Universal Express Pass. My main motivation for going to Universal Studios Japan was actually to explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Thus, I did not feel that I should pay extra for the Universal Express Pass and did not get it.

For The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you may need a Timed Entry Ticket to enter the park when it’s crowded. For these, you have to head to the Ticketing Site, located pretty near the entrance of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Scan your entrance tickets and you will receive a Timed Entry Ticket, with the time that you are allowed to enter. However, do note that you can only receive the Timed Entry Ticket once a day and you should choose a timing that fits your schedule best! Otherwise, if you have already gotten the Universal Express Pass, you do not have to worry about whether or not you are able to score a Timed Entry Ticket.

The entrance to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The entrance to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Now, we have arrived at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! From the entrance of the themed attraction, you will hear the familiar theme song of Harry Potter. Once you have gone through the Hogsmeade entrance, you will find yourself greeted by a large train which the students of Hogwarts would have taken to school. Here, you will also find other fans of Harry Potter decked in various Harry Potter merchandises such as the scarf, capes or carrying wands.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right? Why not treat yourself to a cup of Butterbeer?
When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right? Why not treat yourself to a cup of Butterbeer?

Additionally, you may treat yourself to a Butterbeer here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Easily one of the most iconic drinks of Harry Potter, grabbing a cup of Butterbeer would definitely help you immerse yourself into the world of Harry Potter. Right towards the end of the themed attraction is the Hogwarts Castle, where many stop by to take photos.

A train carriage that the Harry Potter cast would have ridden when they head to Hogwarts
A train carriage that the Harry Potter cast would have ridden when they head to Hogwarts

There are also several rides within the premises of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, such as a Castle Tour and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ in 4K3D. The latter will please any Harry Potter fans as you put yourself into Harry’s shoes to catch the Golden Snitch.

Not only that, shops around The Wizarding World of Harry Potter also do feature goods that have appeared within the series itself, such as the Chocolate Frogs. The friendly staff will also warn you to “take good care of the frogs, or they might just jump out!”

The entrance to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s ride!
The entrance to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s ride!

Unlike Universal Studios Singapore, Universal Studios Japan also features a Cool Japan section where attractions are based off famous Japanese works (like Attack on Titan) or Japanese music artists (Kyary Pamyu Pamyu).

When I was there, it was Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s 4D roller coaster ride that was available. The queue for the ride was long, about 120 minutes or so, but it was definitely worth it. If I could queue for the ride again, I would definitely have done so. Riders have to put on a pair of “Kyary Goggles” which projects a 360-degree virtual reality that projects Kyary’s own “Kyary’s Factory”. Unlike a regular roller coaster where you could anticipate the upcoming turns and drops, Kyary’s Factory does not allow you to do so. As this is a virtual reality ride, the track that appears in front of your eyes may suddenly crumble, therefore leading you to an unexpected drop.

One of the many attractions in USJ
One of the many attractions in USJ

Of course, there are also other rides that are found throughout Universal Studios Japan, such as the JAWS Boat Ride and terrifying roller-coasters like The Flying Dinosaur. Personally, I find the roller coaster rides at Universal Studios Japan much scarier than the ones at Tokyo Disney Resort. Thus, if you’re not really the sort who enjoys such thrill rides, I do not quite recommend that you visit the resort. However, if you are an avid fan of Harry Potter, I do think that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter would come across to be a wonderful delight to you.

One of the many parades that are held throughout the day.
One of the many parades that are held throughout the day.

Similar to Universal Studios Singapore, you may also anticipate parades and small shows that take place within the park itself.

Everyone has heard of hot dogs, but what about churro-dog?
Everyone has heard of hot dogs, but what about churro-dog?

Unlike the Tokyo Disney Resort that permits you to be able to come back into the park when you have left, Universal Studios Japan does not allow you to do so. Once you have left the park, that’s it ‒ you can’t come back in again.

There are many restaurants and shops that are situated outside of Universal Studios Japan, such as Ootoya, the JUMP Shop and convenience stores. I strongly recommend that you visit these places before or after you are done with the rides in Universal Studios Japan, though they are not very interesting and would not take up too much of your time. Although the food at amusement parks is on the pricier side, why not take the chance to try some new food that you would never have seen outside the amusement park, such as a churro-dog?

The majestic Hogwarts Castle that just beckons one to go near.
The majestic Hogwarts Castle that just beckons one to go near.

If you’re stopping by the Kansai region (famous cities in the region include Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe), why not take a short stop at Universal Studios Japan? It is one of the most popular amusement parks in the region and a hotspot for all youths. Spend some time away from the slow pace of Kyoto and Kobe, away from the city area and just spend your day at Universal Studios Japan and feel all your worries and problems be whisked away like magic.

Andrea