IT has been raining for the past four days since we arrived in Osaka, Japan. We had planned to visit Universal Studios Japan today, and I’m worried that may not happen. Despite the fact that we had expected the gloomy weather throughout our 6D5N vacation, we still have high hopes for a sudden change of weather.
Well, it turns out that luck is on our side — the sun shyly peeks out of the cloudy skies as soon as we step off the JR Sakurajima Line train at Universal-City Station. Ahh... the perfect weather to be outdoors!
We walk amidst the many visitors along Universal City avenue, and after about less than 10 minutes, my eyes spot the iconic Universal Studios globe. We have reached the main entrance of the theme park, and there’s a long queue to get inside although it is only 8.15am.
Amzar and I join the line, and patiently wait for the gate to open, probably in 15 minutes. Luckily we have already purchased our tickets via the Klook mobile app so we can enter with an e-ticket, without having to line up.
Klook is an authorised reseller of Universal Studios Japan and in addition to e-tickets, you can purchase Express Passes as well as other promotions, including Klook Exclusive Deals with some of the bundled hottest offers in Osaka.
MAGIC IN THE AIR
Sharp at 8.30am, the gate into the park opens for visitors. Being a Potterhead, I am excited to check out The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Luckily for us, we have already purchased the Universal Express Pass 7 which includes the timed entry ticket to enter the zone.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is on the east side of the theme park and it’s a bit secluded. Just follow the narrow trail through the trees and you will spot the classic faint blue Ford Anglia, which is Weasley family’s flying car — we’re on the right track!
Going in deeper, we are finally transported to Hogsmeade, the village where there is an array of magical shops and pubs such as Zonko’s Joke Shop and Honeydukes frequented by students of Hogwarts. It’s a picturesque village of cottages just like in the movie but with a twist. Diagon Alley includes cool shops such as Ollivanders wand shop and Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment.
Also at Hogmeads is the Hogwarts Express steam engine which transports Hogwarts students and, oh, you can get a commemorative photo taken in a replica of one of the train’s carriages! Pretty cool!
We head towards the huge Hogwarts Castle to play our first ride, the Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey, a multi-dimensional action ride. Well, let me tell you in advance — this ride is a hit! You can be in the queue for up to three hours!
Since we have the Express Pass (which covers Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff) the queue is shorter, and it takes us less than half an hour. Don’t worry, the line-up heading to the ride is fun where you get to explore the inside of Hogwarts castle.
The ride is so exhilarating and ultra-realistic. I can feel the dragon’s heat and the Dementor’s chill! The sensory adventure takes us on a journey where we follow Harry Potter on a broomstick, soaring high above the grounds of Hogwarts Castle, ending at the Quidditch match. However, I find it weird that the characters speak Japanese, which makes it hard to understand what’s the ride is about.
Another fun ride is Flight of the Hippogriff, a magical creature with the head of a giant eagle and the body of a horse. It is a family-friendly rollercoaster that spirals and dives around a pumpkin patch, and swoops past Hagrid’s Hut.
If you have the budget, head inside Ollivanders and get a wand! Then, walk around Hogsmead and start casting spells at the window, stone walls and back alley, and magical things may happen. There are 10 magic places where you can cast a spell and practise with your magic wand.
Oh, and before you head out to explore other zones, do try out the famous wizard beverage, Butterbeer!
Up for a thrilling ride? We head to Jurassic Park where we try out The Flying Dinosour, a stimulating ride with an out-of-control Pteranodon seizing us from behind and which pulls us high into the sky.
The rollercoaster swings 360 degrees through the world of Jurassic Park. It features the world’s longest track of 1,124m and farthest initial drop at the height of 37.8m. No kidding, this ride is not for the faint-of-heart!
If you’re too scared to go on The Flying Dinosour, why not go on a family-friendly ride? The Jurassic Park The Ride will take you on a river tour going through lush tropical where you will encounter some of the extinct creatures including herbivorous dinosaurs roaming the land. But suddenly the boat steers into a forbidden area, a more horrifying scene where a huge scary T.Rex appears out of nowhere. To escape the attack, the boat goes on a headlong 25.9m drop! Beware, it’s a splashy ride that will soak you.
Next on our line-up is to explore three cities — San Francisco, New York and Hollywood. But, before that, we head into Minion Park! If you have watched the Despicable Me movies, you may get excited to see the lively zone and probably can’t help but be part of the Minion mayhem.
Go on The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, and maybe you’ll be recruited as one of the Minions. The ride starts from Gru’s home where you’ll go through wallpapered corridors (find cute doodles by Agnes, Edith and Margo — the three adorable orphan girls adopted by Gru). It then takes us to Gru’s laboratory where we go on a germ scan and then attend a training by the three girls.
The ride will dash you through the air, back to earth, and spin round and round. Children can go on the Freeze Ray Sliders, a more chilling ride.
We then walk towards San Francisco zone where we enter Studio 30 to experience the Backdraft. The attraction will transfer you to a major film setting depicting overwhelming fire scenes. Well, basically, it offers visitors behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the movie, introducing special effects used. There are exploding oil drums, gushing pillars of fire, encroaching walls of flames and enveloping hot blasts — and they are realistic!
Heading to New York, Amzar and I walk to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man The Ride. Spiderman is one of my favourite heroes and I’m excited! The ride features 4K3D technology with a series of special effects. I get to watch Spider-Man fight the sinister Doctor Octopus, and it’s so electrifying!
One of my favourite rides in Hollywood is Sailor Moon the Miracle 4-D because I used to love Sailor Moon back when I was younger. Plus, this is a special show only during the 5th Universal Cool Japan event and only runs before noon! Held at one of the theatres, the show is a 4D movie that tells the mission of Sailor Moon and the guardians to protect the world from evil. I really wish that the show is in English, but overall, I love it and it really brings me back to my childhood days.
We visit many more attractions and watch a few shows until it’s almost sunset. But, we do not leave yet because we do not want to miss the Universal Spectacle Night Parade. The immersive parade happens at 8pm (the time may vary) for a duration of 55 minutes.
Take a look at the map and you can see the marked route for the parade. It’s useful especially when you trying to figure out where you want to watch the parade from. Viewers can sit on the pavement, or get a Special Viewing Area Pass but there is an additional charge.
You can witness the transformation of the park through the meticulous synchronisation of projection mapping, lighting and show orchestration technology! In fact, the area for projection mapping is at least 600m in total length on the surface of the wall.
Floats include Harry Potter, Transformers, Jurassic World and Minions. There are 15 floats and 100 entertainers involved! The largest float is over 8m in height while the heaviest is 25 tonnes.
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