August 28, 2014

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Japan

After my summer internship at Walt Disney Shanghai, I am happy to be back in Singapore and continue my university studies. But before being occupied by all the school work, I dropped by Universal Studios Japan in Osaka to visit the Japan's version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (ウィザーディング・ワールド・オブ・ハリー・ポッター) which opened on July 15. Please join me to check out this amazing land and get to know how it is different from the US version.





LET'S START! 始めましょう!

Hogsmeade in USJ only has one entrance, unlike the Orlando version. The entrance is quite well done and is especially enchanting at night.

 

Here, you don't just turn at the corner and see the gate of Hogsmeade. You have to pass through the forest, which really is a very interesting addition that builds up the excitement.


 

Here we are at Hogsmeade!



The street of Hogsmeade looks quite similar to its US counterpart, but the locations of the shops are rearranged to increase the capacity of certain popular shops.

Another major difference here is that this land does not have Dragon Challenge roller coaster. Although it might be disappointing for some guests, I actually find it to be an advantage theme-wise. Without the tracks, the land looks even more immersive and authentic.


The castle looks just amazing.
It is interesting that, here Forbidden Journey offers Universal Express (which usually sells out an hour before the park opens).







The castle walk-through and the ride are almost identical to the US versions. It is still one of the best rides I have been on. 
However, there is one advantage here that makes it even better. This ride visuals are presented in 4K, and it is indeed very much clearer. I was truly wowed by the difference the resolution can make. But I believe Orlando will eventually have their ride upgraded with 4K.

I have also heard about a rumor saying that this version is not only in 4K but also in 3D. I would like to clarify that it is not a 3D ride.




There is nothing here that breaks the immersion, because unlike Islands of Adventure, there is no other land connected to Hogsmeade. (Well if you look really closely you can spot one thing from the image below that does not belong here : D)



Yes, Flight of he Hippogriff stays.


Butterbeer is very popular here as well.


Another addition to the land is the Black Lake.


Something is living beneath the surface... Intriguing...








Like I said just now, shops are rearranged. Here you will find Ollivanders at the other side of the street (the side with Three Broomsticks, instead of side with the Owl Post).





Ollivanders now has a wait time indicator.
However we did not enter the shops this time.


When exiting Ollivanders, you will be guided into a much bigger wand shop with much more wands (and people).






Here you can find both Honey Dukes and Zonko's. The former did not overtake the latter (I find this very interesting, considering that USJ is the only park that still has JAWS and Back to the Future).






Well since this is already very successful, maybe we will see Diagon Alley here in a few years too. But for now, visitors can't really aboard the train.









Given this land's attention to details, I can not understand why they did not bother to cover up the show building (picture below)! This is the only complain I have for this land.





"The Wizarding World of Hary Potter - Universal Studios Japan" is so beautiful and immersive, just like its counterpart in Orlando. It allows Asian visitors to experience the magic world without having to travel to the other side of the globe. 

Thank you for taking this journey with me! How do you find this land? Please let me know at the comment section below.

22 comments:

  1. Well written! :D
    Fabulous place indeed.

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  2. Fantastic report, Luke! And it looks MUCH better than the Orlando version. I'll talk about your article tomorrow on D&M!

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  3. Beautiful photos, Luke! You've certainly captured the magic of Japan's Wizarding World.

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    1. Thanks, Nicholas!!!
      In the past year I have been working hard to improve my photography skills and I have to thank you for inspiring me in many ways!

      Delete
  4. I can't wait to get over to Japan and see/experience this land at Universal!

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    1. I am sure you will have a wonderful time there!

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  5. Hi Luke,
    Great review, we are the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast, we cover all the universal parks, not just Orlando, we would love to talk to you on the show about the new Wizarding World in Japan.
    If you're interested email us at podcast@uuopodcast.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lee Mallaby.
      Thank you very much. Let's keep in touch via email!

      Delete
  6. Great review and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Japan looks amazing. I am planning to go to Japan on vacation next year and have only 5 days. So I am choosing whether to go to Tokyo for Tokyo Disneyland or Osaka for Universal Studios Japan.

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    1. Hi. Thank you very much!!

      Well I think both parks are very fun. It really depends on whether you want to visit Wizarding World very much. If you are ok with not visiting it, I would recommend Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.

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    2. Thank you for the response and are the lines very long in Universal Studios Japan and Tokyo Disneyland and do you suggest going early. I heard the waiting time in rides in Japan theme parks are much longer compared to theme parks in Hong Kong and Singapore. Do you also suggest getting a Universal Express Pass and do you know where I can book it in advance together with my ticket. I am worried that the lines in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are very long and we may not ride many rides on our trip.

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    3. Hi, friend!

      Yes, you are right. The wait times are long in TDL TDS and USJ, especially in summer.

      But while it seemed difficult, I was actually able to ride almost everything in TDL and TDS in one day with good use of Fastpass. So a bit of planning beforehand can really make a difference.

      In USJ, however, I would say it's more difficult. I would recommend you to buy the express if you want to be safe.
      You can buy park ticket and express online, but the page is only in Japanese
      http://www.usj.co.jp/ticket/?area=w_h_tick

      Hope that helps!

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  7. Thank you! Do the Universal Express Pass sell fast and can I still get them even if I buy it on the day I arrive on the Park. Do you also know any english website and places in Osaka where I can buy the tickets and Universal Express Pass In advance.

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    1. Hi.
      Yes. Express sells very fast on peak days, but you can still get one if you arrive as least an hour before the park opens.

      There are many agencies that sell Universal Express Passes in Osaka. However we did not buy our passes from the agencies so I am sorry that I am not familiar with this matter.

      You can also go to USJ's english site and contact them for more information

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  8. Hi! Awesome pictures!!

    May I just check if the express pass holders will get the walk through of the castle or it skips right to the ride? In USO, the single riders queue though shorter did not allow them to walk through the castle but right to the ride. So wondering if I want the castle walk through, I will have to forgo the express pass.

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    1. Hi! I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      so sorry for the late reply.
      The express line does go through most of the castle actually.

      And if you really want to experience the castle, you can go into the normal queue at about 15 minutes before the park closes.

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  9. Brilliant article!

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  10. Love ur photos! Very nicely taken! Sorry but may I know how long roughly u took to cover USJ? A whole day? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi!

      I am so sorry for the late reply.

      It took me a whole day to cover the park, and about one fourth of the time was spent inside Harry Porter area.
      However, that was given that I bought the express pass for 5 attractions.
      But I believe it's possible to ride most attractions in a whole day, if it's not too crowded.

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