After a frankly depressing last day in Hiroshima, my friend and I decided to boost our spirits… with a trip to Hogsmeade!
I love (love LOVE) all things Harry Potter, and I had been looking forward to this trip for ages. (And I mean ages. I’ve been waiting for a Harry Potter-themed park since the days of Merlin.)
Universal Studios Japan is located in the lovely city of Osaka, only an hour’s ride on the shinkansen from Hiroshima. I wanted to visit the park solely for the opportunity to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but I didn’t have an excuse to spend so much on a shinkansen ticket all the way across Honshu until now. Since I was going to be in Hiroshima for the holidays, I figured this was perfect.
The park was moderately crowded the day we went, which was not a shock. We went on December 23rd—a national holiday in Japan. After my experience at Tokyo Disney Sea, I didn’t expect to get much done all day. Our one and only goal was to go to Hogwarts.
We bought tickets at the front of the park and then quickly moved into the center to get something like a Fast Pass for TWWHP. Since it’s so popular, you have to get a ticket to be let in. The tickets are free (as Fast Passes are), but they give you a specific time to visit HP’s homeland. We arrived early enough at the ticket spot that we could choose a time of day. We briefly considered choosing 1:00, but then decided on 10:00 (only half an hour away), because why wait? This was the only thing we really wanted to do anyway.
Turns out it was a good decision, because HP World was very crowded and wait times just inside that area were ridiculous. We hopped on the Jaws ride before heading over, and then we walked right into Hogsmeade.
It was magical.
I was having a major geek-out. My friend also likes Harry Potter, but everyone knows that I like Harry Potter the best.
We went into all the stores, and I had to force myself to leave, because it was so cool. Ollivanders’ was the best, because it was just floor to ceiling wands. I didn’t buy a wand because I already have one—that I made. (Left it in the U.S. though, in my trunk.)
I did want to buy robes, though. I saw people walking around with Hogwarts robes and hats, and I told my friend, “That’s gonna be me. Sorry not sorry.”
Of course, that all depended on the price of the robes, and they did turn out to be a bit too expensive (and low quality! I can make my own, thanks, for cheaper). I did, however, find this baby:
Ugh. I freaked when I found it. I had to have it. And it’s brilliant.
After shopping around a bit (I also got a Chocolate Frog and some Pumpkin Juice), we stood in line for a ride. The line was about two hours, and the ride was short, but it was fun! Unfortunately, the other ride in HP World had a four hour wait. No thanks. (Riddikulus!)
The ride we skipped was the one that led you through Hogwarts, though, so we were a little disappointed until we saw that you can take the “Hogwarts Tour”—meaning you can walk through the castle with everyone else (in a separate line) and just not get on the ride! That was a cool compromise, so we walked around inside the castle. They had some illusions of the characters talking (in Japanese) and famous landmarks in the castle.
After that, we departed from Hogsmeade and explored the rest of Universal Studios. It was a typical theme park day. We went on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, watched the Waterworld live show (complete with foreign actors as the main characters), skipped over Spider-man because the line was four hours, and waited in line for Hollywood Dream only to have it break down.
I would say that USJ is worth it, if only for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was crowded, but I enjoyed myself.