Those of you that know me well will know that usually, anything Disney or universal is really, REALLY not my thing. However, in this instance, I was willing to give it a go, partly because of Jakes endearing, childlike desire to go on the back to the future ride, and because of Harry Potter World. I have loved Harry Potter since the age of about seven (like most young brits) so, in the interest of Butterbeer we headed into central Osaka and got on the train to Universal.
Universal is really easy to get to. It’s advertised everywhere and it’s just three short stops away from central Osaka Station and four stops from Shin-Osaka, which is where we were staying. Universal in Japan is a very local thing. Tickets cost 7,000 yen and a one year unlimited pass costs 12,000 yen – you do the maths. All day we had an amazing time people watching, as large groups, young couples and pairs of friends were wondering around in matching themed costumes. We are still unsure as to whether this was for Halloween, or just because the Japanese love dressing up. Either way it was a lot of fun bumping into various groups of minions and Mario and Luigis.
Harry Potter world did not disappoint in any way, shape or form. To everyone that thinks Universal’s interpretation of Butterbeer is disgusting – I say this claim is outrageous! Butterbeer was the single most delicious drink I have ever tasted (except, perhaps, Patron xo Café) and if I closed my eyes could well imagine that I was sharing a drink in the three broomsticks with Harry, Ron and Hermione (lol – imagery.) If I’d not been on a budget I know that I could have easily spent a lot of yen on various Harry Potter merchandise, although I probably would have struggled to choose between a stuffed Hedwig, a Sorting Hat and a wand from Olivanders. As it was, I exercised tremendous self-restraint and came away souvenir free.
As it was the 1st of October when we went to Universal, there were a lot of Halloween themed things going on throughout the park. After six PM the lovely, safe back to the future ride shut and became a Ju-On (remember The Grudge? Yep, her) themed ride – which was actually terrifying! When we exited the ride there was a woman dressed up as the grudge howling in the exit and one unlucky man ran away from her so fast he fell on the floor and skidded down the exit slope! (He was ok – we checked.) There were also lots of actors dressed as zombies in the “Zombie Zone” which appeared after dark. These delightful beings would stage the murder of tourists in a fake car and then run through the crowd brandishing chainsaws that were incredibly realistic – they even smelled of petrol! The whole night was hilarious and really put us in the mood to seek more Halloween fun during our stay in Japan.
Altogether, the park is a lot smaller than the ones in America, but it packed a great punch all the same. During our seven-hour stay in the park we managed to go on six rides as a lot of the time was spent queuing for the Hogwarts ride – much to Jakes dismay. Our favourite ride was the Hollywood ride, which can also be ridden backwards. This was a high-speed rollercoaster, which had no scary upside-down bits, a massive bonus for wimps like me! When it felt like we had got our moneys worth, we hopped on the train and headed back to our apartment.
There is plenty of overpriced restaurants inside the park, as can be expected with any similar enterprise, but there was also a lot of snack stalls that offered reasonably priced bites. We picked up a giant turkey leg and a mummy dog, as well as various other small drinks and snacks whilst managing to remain within budget. One thing to watch though, as an international tourist, is that nowhere in Osaka seemed to accept MasterCard or any international VISA, except for the 7bank cash machines. This has not been a problem since we have been in Tokyo, and MasterCard is accepted at all venues within the park, but if you want to get some food in Universal city then make sure you take some cash as it is impossible to get food anywhere – even in McDonalds!
All in all I really enjoyed my day in Universal Osaka and it surpassed many of my expectations. IF you go during October, dress up, and make sure that you are there after dark to get your full fill of Zombie fun!
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