But Universal Studios Japan was calling out to us so we took all our luggage and got the hotel staff to flag us two cabs.
Yes, you read that right. TWO. Because one cab can only transport 4 people regardless of age or size and they're pretty strict about that, we needed two cabs for the 5 of us (cost: 3700 yen per taxi x 2).
We do realise that it is cheaper to get there by train but with two kids, a senior and A LOT of large bags filled with our shopping (5 to be exact!), it was more convenient and less tiring for us to commute by taxi. Well, I do prefer to expand my energy in Universal Studios.
|A group selfie of us in the cab|
Approximately 30 minutes later, we arrived at The Park Front Hotel to check in and deposit our luggage before heading for Universal Studios Japan (USJ)!
|The grand lobby of The Park Front Hotel|
(more about the hotel in the next post)
It was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel to the entrance of USJ. So convenient =)
|Clockwise from left: The yellow building is The Park Front Hotel;|
Walking in the direction that everybody else is walking;
Our Universal Studios Japan tickets.
We bought our 1 Day Studio Pass at JTB Singapore for SGD 95 per adult and SGD 75 per child prior to arriving in Japan so that we did not have to queue to buy tickets (more information on ticket prices here).
I had wanted to buy the Universal Express Passes but man, they were soooo expensive (approximately SGD240 per adult if bought from JTB Singapore). Besides, the only ride that I really wanted to sit was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (couldn't care less about the rest) so it wasn't worth it for me.
|Universal Studios Japan is celebrating it's 15th anniversary!|
|Mandatory selfie in front of the USJ entrance|
|Look at the crowd of people queuing to go in and there's already people riding the Hollywood Dream roller coaster ride|
Arming ourselves with a map of Universal Studios Japan, we were off to explore the theme park!
I've been to Movie World (which is similar to Universal Studios in my opinion) and Universal Studios Singapore countless of times so my sole purpose for coming to USJ was for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I'm like a super fan of Harry Potter so obviously it was our first stop for the day.
I had heard that there may be timed entry during peak periods but as it wasn't peak period for us (thankfully!), there was no need to queue to enter.
|Entrance to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter|
(The sign says "please respect the spell limits")
I just have to say..
OMG, I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M FINALLY HERE!!!!! Wooohoo!!
|The magical Hogsmeade|
|Left: The Christmas decorations fit right in don't you think?;|
Right: Me and the Hogwarts Express.
|Candy and so much more at Zonko's!|
|Hogwarts Castle and The Flight of the Hippogriff, an outdoor roller coaster|
We walked straight to Hogwarts Castle to queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (4K3D) before the crowd reaches it. As we were early, we only waited for about 45 minutes (the average waiting time for this ride is 120 minutes)!
|Clockwise from left: Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry;|
Winged boars welcome you at the top of the gate;
Signboards that point the way to Hogwarts or Hogsmeade.
|Clockwise from left: what kids do when they got bored while queuing;|
Staff welcoming us to join the queue;
Lots of people in the queue!
|Clockwise from left: We're almost there!;|
Entry for Hogwarts staff only;
The H logo for Hogwarts is found everywhere.
You'll also see moving posters that give you a glimpse of how the ride is like:
So cool!! Can't wait, can't wait!
|We finally reached the entrance of Hogwarts Castle! Sooo beautiful! Love the Hogwarts School Crest bearing the four houses of Hogwarts.|
It's really dark inside and you will have to put all your belongings in a locker before you proceed for the ride (you can put your phone in your pocket but that's about it).
|Inside Hogwarts Castle|
By the way, if you're wondering, yes the people in the frames do move and talk! Except that they're speaking in Japanese so I can't understand a word that they're saying..
|Clockwise from left: The Fat Lady who guards the doors of Griffindor also moves as you walk pass her;|
The Sorting Hat bids you farewell just before you embark on your adventure;
The vehicle that we'll be riding in seats four.
As my boy was not tall enough to ride, we were allowed to do a Child Swap where one parent rides while the other takes care of the child and then the parents swap places.
|Holding room where the girl and I, who rode the ride first, waited with my boy for the hubby and mum-in-law|
The whole ride is in Japanese and has a lot of twists and flips! The hubby and mum-in-law felt giddy afterwards and my girl was so scared that her eyes were closed in almost a squint. I'll have you know though that bravery was never my girl's strength so that's no indication of the scariness of this ride. If she were to belong to a Hogwarts House, I would say she would be in Ravenclaw and definitely not Griffindor.
As for me, I SUPER DUPER LOVE THIS RIDE!!!! I think if the queue wasn't so long, I would have gone on it at least 5 times! If you're a Harry Potter fan, this ride is a MUST!! (^-^)
With a sigh (from me), we left Hogwarts Castle and got ourselves a Butterbeer!
|Buying Butterbeer from the cart.|
You can buy them in 3 types of cups: regular disposable cup (600 yen), plastic souvenir cup (1100 yen) & premium metal cup (3980 yen). We got the plastic souvenir cup because the metal one was simply too expensive!
|My boy and I loved the butterbeer but the hubby was disappointed that it didn't have real alcohol|
|Yay, I finally got to try a Butterbeer! v(^-^)v|
Next we went to queue for the show at Ollivanders.
|Lovely view of the Hogwarts while we were queuing|
|Left: Rows and rows of boxes of wands (supposedly);|
Right: Mr Ollivander finding the right wand for a chosen person in the audience.
After the show, the hubby literally had to drag me out of "Harry Potter world" because I simply refused to go!
"Look!!! Hermione's wand! Oooh a time-turner! This Griffindor scarf is soooo cool! Hey that's a FIREBOLT!!"
Sadly, no one in my family shared my enthusiasm *gloomy sigh*. So off we went to the next attraction, the JAWS ride.
|Cool boat ride with relatively shorter queue|
I mean, it's just a shark right? I felt that that was nothing great about the shark although the special effects were cool.
We brought the kids to Wonderland next, which was the cutest part of the theme park!
We had our lunch in Snoopy's Backlot Cafe because getting fueled up was important for my family (me, I could go on the rides all day with just butterbeer in my stomach *laughs*).
|This plane in the corner of Snoopy's Backlot Cafe is actually tables for kids! The kids love the airplane table! We had to have separate tables because they wouldn't eat at the regular table. Who could blame them?|
|The set meals we ordered came in super cute Snoopy containers!|
After lunch, we met Snoopy and his friends outside of the restaurant!
|Lucy, Snoopy & Charlie|
|Us with Lucy and Charlie!|
Then we visited Snoopy Studios, which houses a playground and even a mini roller coaster called Snoopy's Great Race!
|Clockwise from left: Snoopy Studios;|
Spike's Corral playground for toddlers;
Snoopy's Great Race
We also queued for The Flying Snoopy, even though we've sat on such rides countless of times!
|The Flying Snoopy|
The kids met Hello Kitty in Hello Kitty Fashion Avenue but didn't manage to get a picture with her (anyway, we've got tons of pictures of Hello Kitty when we were in Hello Kitty Town).
Instead, most of the photos were taken at Seseme Street Fun World.
|Super excited on Big Bird's Big Top Circus|
|Elmo's Little Drive|
This ultra car lover was so excited to sit drive a car his size that he sometimes forgot to step on the accelerator!
|Climbing up the tree|
|The boy got stuck up there and couldn't get back down though. I had to climb up and rescue him.|
|Cookie jar with cookie mats|
|For sliding on the cookie monster slide!|
The kids had so much fun at Wonderland! Plenty of things for pre-school kids to do!
While the hubby and Mum-in-law were with the kids, this ride-fanatic mummy snuck off alone to ride the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman as a Single Rider. The queue for single riders was much shorter at that time so I was in and out in just 10 minutes!
|Walking through Hollywood|
|The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman|
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman is a simulator ride, which is very similar to our own USS Transformers ride, except that Transformers is so much better! Spiderman was good but just not good enough. I'm really proud that we managed to trump USJ in this aspect! *laughs*
Unsatisfied with the Spiderman ride, I decided to go and queue for the Harry Potter ride again while everyone else was watching the parade. I decided to skip it since I've watched the parade many times in USS and thought that there might be another parade.
Well, there wasn't another parade, which was a big bummer! Tokyo Disneyland trumps USJ in this aspect (there are more than one parade in Tokyo Disneyland). Oh well, at least I only waited for 75 minutes for the ride because of the parade and it was worth the wait because the ride was awesome! *grin*
I met up with the rest of the family after the ride and we explored the rest of USJ.
|Check this board for the waiting times of caption|
|Clockwise from left: Selfie with the largest Christmas tree in the area!;|
My kids love to take selfies with me!;
The same Mel's Drive Through as USS.
Sadly, we didn't visit the rest of the attractions because:
1) these were too scary
- The Flying Dinosaur
- Hollywood Dream (Backdrop)
- Jurassic Park – The Ride
- Shrek's 4D Adventure
- Universal Monsters Live Rock and Roll Show
3) I was the only one who wanted to ride/watch these (since I already snuck off to ride Harry Potter, I couldn't sneak off again)
- Space Fantasy – The Ride
- Terminator 2:3-D
|The new ride, The Flying Dinosaur, and a Minion popcorn cart|
(we wanted to buy the Minion popcorn holder which talks and moves but it cost 3500 yen I think. Too expensive!)
|It's getting dark!|
|Hollywood Dream The Ride looks great night!|
Since we didn't ride any of the other rides (which was such a pity I know), we walked around the stores buying souvenirs.
Before we left the park, we caught the Christmas performance at New York land (somewhere near Terminator 2 and the big Christmas tree) and enjoyed the mini fireworks.
All in all, other than Harry Potter and Wonderland, we felt Universal Studios Japan was not great as compared to Tokyo Disneyland or even Universal Studios Singapore. If we had Harry Potter in USS, I doubt I will even go to USJ!
Having said that, if you're a fan of rides, don't have kids holding you back, have all the time in the world to queue and love Harry Potter, USJ is still worth a visit if you're in the area. For me, my time in Harry Potter's world was already well worth my ticket! (^_^)
Even though the park was only closing in another hour, the family was so bored that they dragged me out of USJ to look for dinner (they had more fun in Disneyland).
It was pretty crowded everywhere in Universal Citywalk, the closest mall to USJ and our hotel, but we managed to get a table at 風神雷神 (Fujin Raijin) Ra-Men. It was ramen yet again because of the kids (hubby and I had to give up our original barbeque choice).
|Clockwise from left: Cha shu ramen with gyoza set for the kids;|
The restaurant's signboard looks very familiar. Perhaps we have this in Singapore too.
|My favourite spicy ramen! Yum!|
Did I wish I could've done more in USJ? Definitely. But in the end, it wasn't fun doing everything alone. I learned that I just need to visit Universal Studios with the right person, i.e. my theme park loving sister (Ber I missed you in USJ)! *laughs*
Continue to >> Osaka Day 6-7: The Park Front Hotel & Universal City Walk