Well, ladies, gentlemen, and other such creatures, yours truly recently deigned to make the trip to the glorious city of Osaka to fulfil a geeky dream long overdue – visiting Harry Potter World. I got lost in those magical books many years ago, enjoyed the films, and longed to be able to walk down the streets of my imagination. So, with three weeks off and a summer to spare, I decided to go make that dream a reality in Japan’s Universal Studios.
The studios are very epic, I’ll give them that. Even shrivelled up as a raisin, dehydrated and dead on my feet, I couldn’t help but being taken aback by the scale of this park. Epic score music from Universal classics blasted from HQ speakers, reverberating off the walls, buildings and statues of grand proportions capturing the eye to better draw out the imagination. As a 26 year old, this theme park is hardly made with my tastes in mind, and yet I found it entertaining and interesting. I can only imagine what it must be for a child.
As I said, I mainly came to USJ for Harry Potter, so I didn’t explore too many of the other rides and areas. That, and mostly my foolhardy attempt to walk across Osaka during noon on a hot summer’s day, pretty much set it in stone that I was passed out on a park bench, chain drinking water and Pocari Sweat, surrounded by my elders three to four times my age, silently shaming me for my weakness.
However, the promised hour came at last (for you actually have to book a time slot in which to enter Harry Potter World since it is so busy), and I raised my soggy bottom from the bench and made my wary way to the entrance. As tired and sweaty as I was, I couldn’t help having my spirits lifted by hearing the Harry Potter soundtrack being carried invisibly through a clearing in the woods. I was first met with the famous Ford Angela, at which point I felt myself grow ten years younger, skipping class in the school lunch room to read Harry Potter for the first time. And then… Well, pictures speak louder than words.
On top of all that, there was also an AMAZING 3-D ride in the actual Hogwarts castle. Unfortunately, no phones or cameras were allowed inside, so I can’t show you any pictures, but as far as amusement rides go, this one was top dog. You take a nice walk through Hogwarts castle at first, seeing some classic sights such as the Mirror of Erised, Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room, the portrait of the Fat Lady, and many more. Then you get on this 3-D ride which takes you on an exhilarating flight through and over Hogwarts castle, a fight with a Hungarian Horntail, several dementors, the Chamber of Secrets, and Aragog’s lair. Five minutes never went by so quickly.
All in all, an absolutely great experience. I hear tale that the one in Orlando is even more impressive, so I look forward to making that comparison some day. In the meanwhile, if you are considering checking this out, let me make a few suggestions. Preferably, do this sometime outside of July and August. For one, it is ridiculously hot during those months in Japan, and even more so in Osaka. Furthermore, USJ is still one of the premier attractions in Asia, so people from China, Korea, and South-East Asia also pour in during the tourist season. I definitely had a great time, but there was a lot of times I felt hurried to get in and get out due to the vast crowds constantly pouring in and out of every attraction. It is really, REALLY crowded. And if you can go in the winter, I imagine it would be nothing short of magical, what with there being less people so you can take your time being absorbed into the world you know and love, but also imagine a Hogsmeade covered in genuine snow. Also, don’t forget to book yourself an Express Pass way in advance so you don’t have to wait 1-3 hours per ride. My friends got there at 10 AM and they were already sold out. So you can get a pretty good idea how busy it can get.
Anywho, that’s my little bit for that adventure. Hope I perked someone’s interest!