Taiwan and Japan

2015 - 2016

Day 9

Universal Studios

Today we went to Universal Studios. To get there, we needed to take a local train to a JR station, then a JR train to the Universal City station. This brought back memories of the last time we were here, except this time it wasn’t snowing!

Rob was really under the weather today, so in the morning we organised some food and painkillers for him and he started at the hotel for the day to catch up on some sleep.

When we arrived at Universal Studios we lined up for our tickets, but the express passes were already sold out. From memory there were still 2 days left of the holiday period in Osaka, so there were a lot of people there!

First stop was to buy a “timed ticket” for “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”. A good proportion of us had already been to Universal Studios, but none of us had seen Harry Potter world because it’s a fairly new addition. Our tickets were booked for 1pm so we had a bit of time to kill.

Normally I’m the only one that isn’t a big fan of rides, but this time there were three of us! Amy suggested the first ride to be Jaws because it is incredibly tame and kind of funny, but the queue to get in was about 80 minutes. This ride is not good enough to justify that kind of wait time so we moved on. The queues were crazy! Even to get some food we had to get into some really long lines.

We ended up getting in line for the Back Draft demonstration. The queue said it had a wait time of 50 minutes, which is about how long we had before we could enter Harry Potter world. Amy explained that they normally allow 10 minutes to get through queues even when it’s empty, so it should be fairly safe to assume we would be through the queue in about 30-40 minutes instead and she was spot on. The Back Draft demonstration is pretty old, but still fairly good. It’s a little funny seeing footage from such an old movie and then dubbed for a Japanese audience, especially when we couldn’t understand a single word, but once you get to the final section of the demonstration, the effects are still good to watch.

From here we headed to Harry Potter world, the main reason we were here! To get there you have to walk through a queue that looks like the forbidden forest until you reach what looks like Hogsmeade. This place looked fantastic, it was like it’s own little theme park inside.

The first thing we saw was the butter beer stand and Olivanders. Drew and Danni got in the queue for Olivanders while we lined up for the butter beer.
They had two varieties, hot and cold each with the option of a souvenir cup. They were all non-alcoholic and I decided on the cold one. It was pretty tasty, it was like creamy soda with marshmallow spread on the top as the foam.

There were lots of shops around and they were all made to look like places in the movie. There was Olivanders of course, the 3 broomsticks, Honeydukes, The Owl Post, Finch’s Emporium, Dervish and Bangers, Wiseacres Wizarding Robes and Zonkos.

The merchandise was pretty expensive, but it does add to the atmosphere of the place. There were a lot of people walking around in costume, both staff and tourists which made the whole experience quite immersive.
The Robes were about ¥14000, which is around $160 Australian dollars. The wands were about ¥4000. I didn’t buy any of those, but I’m addition to the butter beer I did buy some pumpkin juice, pumpkin pastries, a chocolate frog and Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.

We lined up for the show at Olivanders, it was about a 40 minute wait, but the queue had a great view of Hogwarts. Between us and Hogwarts was some water and they must have added some oil or something to the water because it gave amazingly perfect reflections!

The Olivanders show was pretty good. We meet Olivander, who chose someone at random to help find a wand. The actor was really good! He spoke in Japanese and English and picked a little boy from the audience. He would pick a wand for the boy to try and instructed him to cast a spell. The first two wands caused havoc around the shop and the boys face was priceless! The third wand had chosen the boy and there was a bright light when he touched it, this was his wand and he got to keep it! He was overjoyed!

There were two more really long queues, one for another show and one for a roller coaster, but these queues were 2-3 hours each! The roller coaster went inside the Hogwarts castle, but because these queues are so nice, they had a separate one for a walking tour! It was such a great idea! We walked along side the hordes of people in queue and got to see a lot of familiar scenes from the movies.

After that we lined up to get some food at The Three Broomsticks. The inside of this restaurant was also pretty impressive! I ended up having a meal with some chicken, pork ribs, a corn cob and potatoes.

After eating and some more souvenir shipping we made our way back out to the rest of the park. Sarma, Chris and I spend a little more time on the park to take some photos and watch some of the light show that had a fireworks display and some drones flying over the audience before heading out to Bubba Gumps in Universal CityWalk for some dinner.

It was a long day with a lot of queuing up and a lot walking, but it was a pretty good experience.