Monday, 28 September 2015

Japan Holiday Day 8 - Universal Studios Osaka

I have been to Universal Studios in Los Angeles, and compared to Disneyland I found it a bit disappointing, but Osaka has Harry Potter so I was looking forward to seeing that. It was also unfortunate that we were in Osaka for the weekend so that meant that crowds would be absolutely insane.

We got tickets from our hotel, but we were debating whether to get the fastpasses (which would have been another 6100 yen on top of our tickets) and because we had small children who could not get on some rides, we thought it wasn't worth it.

Well, I'll tell you I won't make that mistake again. Waiting in lines really SUCKS.

It is quite easy to get to Universal studios, and even the Universal City walk in had lots of restaurants and things to see. It was more impressive at night time though.

Japanese people love to cosplay.  There were heaps of people dressed up - groups of Where's Wally, tons of Minions, Zombies, Hogwarts students and school girls and many others, I wished I had taken photos of them, but that might have been a bit rude.

Some things were so popular you had to get a timed ticket to enter. It's free to get the timed ticket, it just gives you a time you can actually enter the area, but that doesn't stop you from having to queue for the rides on top of that!

The first ride we went to was the Jaws ride, and it was a boat ride with shark splashing and firey explosions. The fire was so hot, that my son was frightened (he was on that side of the boat) and he clambered over me and over my hubby trying to excape the fire. It wasn't a bad ride overall.

We turned up for Harry Potter and found it was timed entry so we had to come back in 2 hours.  We passed the time going to Backdraft which was a walkthrough thing with some explanations of the movie (all in Japanese) with the last walkthrough a stage fire set in a warehouse which was loud with all the explosions and really hot with all the fire. Not bad for a short wait.

We then went to Back to the Future, which was a ride using visual screens around you that dips and turns and spins around - it made me very carsick and I was still feeling queasy for half an hour afterwards. I wasn't the only one - our friend had the same problem but hers lasted longer than mine. We stopped for some minion pork buns.. yum!

Finally it was time for us to go to Harry Potter! This ring of stones is the entrance area, and I can't remember where it was from in the movie.

The path leading in is surrounded by these lovely trees and is quite pleasant and secluded from the other areas of the park.

Weasley's car
It was magnificent when we reached the Harry Potter zone, which was a combination of Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley and Hogwarts!  I was so happy I even had tears in my eyes as I took photos of the area.

Here is a view of the street with the mixed shops from Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.  The snow was a nice touch - if only the temperature matched!  It was really hot and humid and the crowds only made it more uncomfortable.

Here are the shops from Diagon Alley - well except for Scrivenshaft's Quills shop which is in Hogsmeade, but next to it is Wiseacre's Wizarding Supplies which IS in Diagon Alley.  Ollivanders sold some very genuine wands which were 3700 yen a pop.  A little too pricey for me, I think.

Zonko's joke shop and a puking pustilles mannequin - not that many jokes in there though!

Honeydukes! There were lots of lollies here to be had, and they even had the Bertie Botts every flavour beans (which looked suspiciously like Jelly Belly jellybeans) but I wasn't game to try them just in case there WAS a snot flavoured one.

Here are the Hogsmeade shops - with the Three Broomsticks (which here was an eatery as well) and Gladrags Wizardwear, where you could spend a measly 14000 yen on wizard robes... even I wasn't game to pay that much, though I would love to have one for the next dress up thing I would have to do.

I liked the Owlery - the owls were moving and blinking, and their perches were complete with owl poop!

There was a 240 minute wait for the big Harry Potter ride (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in 4K3D) and a 120 minute wait for the Flight of the Hippogryph Roller coaster (which both my kids were just tall enough to get on) so we lined up for a ridiculous 2 hours for this 90 second ride.

Food made the queue go faster, and luckily we had bought some Butterbeer beforehand (frozen and regular) as well as a bunch of other snacks including yam churros, some sausages and some sandwiches. The queue went past Hagrid's house, which at least gave us something to look at for a whole 5 minutes.

I didn't take pictures of us on the ride, but I did manage to snap those before us...

The ride was fun, and the kids did like it - it was my daughter's favourite ride. My son said he enjoyed it too. After that we checked out the shops to see if there were any souvenirs worth getting and then did the Hogwarts walk which only had a wait time of 15 minutes.  The queue for the 3D ride also went through the castle and at least it was nice and cool and air conditioned inside!

I really enjoyed the moving portraits on the wall - obviously done with LCD screens and putting an antique frame around them, but the effect was pretty neat.

In one of the rooms Harry, Ron and Hermione appear after having snuck there under the invisibility cloak and they spoke something in Japanese and did a spell then vanished under the cloak again.

After spending all that time at Harry Potter we went to the kids area and the kids played a Snoopy prize game and won some handkerchiefs and a towel, and then rode the Hello Kitty Cupcake ride.

We had a timed entry for Jurassic Park and as we lined up there I thought I'd grab us some snacks from the nearby aptly named Fossil Fuels, which was a bad idea because the line was actually quite short and trying to shovel in a large coke and 2 ice creams in a few minutes was not an easy (nor an enjoyable) task,

The ride was fun but my daughter cried because she didn't like the drop at the end of the ride but my son loved it.  As usual I screamed a bit and that scared everyone else more than the actual ride did.

Next up we went to the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman in 4K3D ride, which also had a 2 hour wait. Since it won best ride for a few years in a row, we really wanted to see it but decided that it would be the last ride we would do for the day.  I was worried I would get car sick again, but this time it wasn't so bad, except there was a lot of screaming on my part because of the 3D and villains trying to shoot us and spray us with water and throw things at us.  It was a really good ride though, I enjoyed it.  Of course, my daughter didn't like it, but my son said he did.

When we came out it was dark outside and we were trying to make our way to the exits, and a lot of the Universal staff were waving the lights trying to clear the streets.  There was gunfire and screaming sound effects coming out of the buildings, and I wondered what was going on.  Then I heard a moaning noise and shambling towards me were a whole lot of zombies.

Ok, I know they are not real but I screamed "ZOMBIES!" nonetheless and started running, and my daughter started running too and burst into tears because she was scared the zombies would get us. My husband had to coax and reassure her that mummy was just being silly and the zombies were not real, but they were everywhere!

Then they all stopped moving, and were lined up in many streets, waiting.

Michael Jackson's "Thriller" started playing, and they all started dancing.  After that, my daughter wasn't scared of the zombies anymore.

It was late, so we just had dinner at Mos Burger, supplemented with takoyaki (fried octopus balls) and frozen yoghurt. By the time we got back to the hotel, we were all exhausted and had a good long sleep!

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