Osaka: Universal Studios Japan 2016
Universal Studios Japan's 2016 theme, "RE-BOOOOOOOORN!", gives guests the feel of fresh second chances. Also, this is my second take of the park. I went to the one in LA 4 years before this. I was pretty stoked 'coz it was my first time seeing a Universal Studios park with a Harry Potter World in it! I'm a huge Harry Potter fan so this is my very own immersion experience into the wizarding world. And just how many O's are there in Universal Studios' 15th anniversary theme? 8. Yeah, I counted it lol. Such a long-ass word, right? Well, the "BOOOOOOOORN" part matches the theme of an Asian theme park because... the lines are that long too
A note and a warning: I'm letting the photos do the talking. So this one's pretty photo-heavy. It's a long line... like our rides.
Universal City: Daylight
We got to the Universal complex mid-morning. Of course, it was already very populated. But the Japanese Universal City is very serene compared to its West Coast version.
The Universal Globe
It also rained like the day before. Theme parks and bad weather don't mix pretty well, although the sun did show sometimes.
The Main Entrance
Funny story time! The hafu guy at the ticket area was pretty cute. When my cousin's wife wondered where the English guide maps are, he pointed the direction. We then thanked him. Then he eyeballed and smiled at me while he replied. Hihi. (He's so cute.)
USJ's Hollywood Boulevard was no different from LA's, minus the studio tours and the size. The aesthetic was still pretty Osaka with the teal-pink combo everywhere. Initially we planned to see some shows in Hollywood, such as the Monsters Rock and Roll Show. But we were too late, and there was another ride that took very long and it was near closing time already.
New York / San Francisco
Dunno if I'm ignorant or I missed out on this part, but I haven't seen something like this from LA. New York and San Francisco areas! Right now, I forgot which is which. But most of the photos you see here are mostly from the New York part of the park.
Woman in the Happiness Wagon is all like (three claps) "Happy to serve!"
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
One thing I should tell you about Asian theme parks is that, the queues really take forever. Amusement park lines is a very West vs. East thing, from my experience. Back when I was in LA, both Universal Studios' and Disney's longest queues only took mostly about almost two hours. Only when there is really something wrong will it take long, and they'll announce it. But with Asian park lines, 40 minutes is quick.
This seemed like the coolest ride in the NY area. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man reminded me of the Transformers ride I rode with my fam and cousins before. It's a 4D experience complete with heat, water, and air.
The queue is worth it. To keep the riders entertained, the waiting area is set up a la the office of The Daily Bugle. Screens played the 1960's Spider-Man cartoon that gave us all the lovely memes I'll never get tired of. And yes, they're all in Japanese! I wanted to take pics but the light was so low.
Little did I know, the Spider-Man queue is only a walk in the park...
Louie's N.Y. Pizza Parlor
We finished the Spider-Man ride at about lunch time so we were starving. Louie's N.Y. Pizza Parlor was the nearest place to eat so my cousin, his family, and I headed there.
And wow, even the queues inside are so long. We're already hungry and this is what we get. Even the restaurant is its own theme park ride. O_O But we had all the time to think about what food we want before we get to the front...
Once again, queue paid off. My cousin and I were like, "Let's just get the same meal with the same sides and the same drinks."
We just got the individual pizza with pasta meal sets and added some fries with basil sauce. I fell for the fries + basil combo, even when I was initially hesitant to try.
Wonderland, where kawaii comes alive. My cousin's wife and my niece only shopped for Hello Kitty items while I took pics of this cute ass place. In there were Snoopy & the Peanuts gang, Hello Kitty, Sesame Street, and some figures from my childhood that I forgot thanks to adulting.
It was such a cute place... A cute place to lose both of my caramel gloves in >:(. Thank goodness they were cheap, though.
Hahaha in all honesty I thought this was the same as The Amityville Horror because I f---ing love that film. Amity Village =/= Amityville. (Repeat to self.)
I still have yet to see Jaws, TBH. There goes my film buff credit points :(. But I memorize the theme song though.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Lesson learned: prioritize this damn world first!
Although entrance is free if you have a paid ticket, there's a catch. You have to get another entrance just for Harry Potter World*. No s--- LOL. Just ask any attendant where the ticketing system is. Then they'll give directions to a spot in the San Francisco area where it's just a bunch of ticketing booths that print it. I wish I knew this earlier so we could've enjoyed the ride more.
Honestly, though. Harry Potter World is the main attraction in any Universal Studios park. (Although SG is yet to have one, I think.)
*Let's call it Harry Potter World to keep it short.
The Forbidden Forest
The Harry Potter world is right beside Amity Ville. But if you have never read / seen anything Harry Potter at all, you might have a hard time realizing that this is the area. It's hidden in a forest of pine trees and tall rocks. Yet the amount of people there makes it so obvious that it's Harry Potter world.
And as a Harry Potter fan, holy s--- it's the car Ron Weasley drove up in the air! I didn't get a clear shot but ahh seeing it in the flesh!
Luckily, there's no need for your guardian's slip to enter Hogsmeade Village.
After a long walk through the Forbidden Forest, we finally get inside the actual world. Hogsmeade Village was still pretty much in the holiday spirit, with garlands all over the place and the Christmas tree still standing there.
Though I wish I could make more out of Harry Potter world, I still fulfilled my trip with one experience: Butterbeer!
There's a big butterbeer station with two counters. You can either get the hot or the cold one. I got the hot one since the air's pretty cold.
Hogsmeade ain't complete without the shops we've read or seen. One of them is Honeydukes, the sweets store.
And the other shop I got in was Zonko's, aka Fred and George Weasley's paradise!
The Hogwarts Castle
OMG I've waited for this for a long time! ... And also, waiting for the actual ride is a long time :(.
You can explore the castle in two options: 1) a walk-through, and 2) the ride. Queue times are 15-20 minutes and 3 hours, respectively. LOL since it took us a while before we got there, we took the quick walk-through instead. But hey, I'd do anything to get inside Hogwarts!
Taking pics inside was kinda hard since the light is so low.
Universal City: Night Time
It rained again during the night. The rain fall was moderate, so the grounds were pretty slippery. We exited the park and got back to Universal City again, this time to shop and to eat.
There were a lot of places to eat, but I suggested Mos' Burgers (Masu Baga) to my cousin. It's like the Burger King of Japan. I learned about Mos' Burgers before I went here, so I wanted to try it out. I got a cheeseburger meal with onion rings and fruit juice.
Universal City just glowed so prettily against a post-rain evening. Luckily the Lawson's there sold some gloves so I got myself a pair of tight black ones to replace my knit ones in Wonderland :').
Waiting for the queues at Universal Studios Japan is worth it. However, the only trick is: Prepare. Leave early, as in 7 AM - 8 AM early. It helps to buy your tickets in advanced too. Also, plan out what rides you want to try, because it's all about the waiting in the park. Waiting lines are crazy, so eat small snacks while waiting. Bring a power bank and your phone's charger to save that battery to keep yourself busy.
Osaka: The Verdict
And that's the last leg of our Osaka trip! Navigating Japan for the first time was quite a maze. Little did we know, we were just starting. That night, we already had our luggage by the reception area of our hotel. We prepared to move to our next prefecture: Kyoto.
Overall, I did love Osaka. Three days is quite a quick time to explore the city, but would I get back? Yes. And yes, this time I'd go near the Osaka Castle. Then, I'd ride the damn Harry Potter castle. Also, I'd go through the itinerary items we missed too.
Did you enjoy my Osaka photos? What was your favorite destination? And would you go here soon, too? Tell me in the comments section!