It was a sunny day in Osaka, Japan, but the chill brought by the strong freezing wind was felt to the bones. If it wasn’t for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios I wouldn’t have made a trip to Osaka. I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, and when I was in university I was one of the few people to get their hands on the books first released by the bookstore. Those were the only books I gladly stayed up all night reading.
Osaka is about 30 minutes away from Kyoto by train, but it took us much longer to get there because we were so confused with the trains in Kyoto station that we had to run around the station and kept changing platforms before we finally got on the right train. Unlike the trains in Hong Kong and Singapore, trains that use the same platform in Japan don’t necessarily go to the same destination. Don’t rely on yourself and your maps, ask the locals. They always try to help.
Winter is not a peak season for Universal Studios Japan, so there was no need for us to get a timed entry ticket to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. A one-day pass for Universal Studios costs ¥7900, and the express pass costs ¥7600 on top of the studio pass.
It wasn’t peak season but we fell in line for about 2 hours to enter Hogwarts and ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. So if you come during peak season I assure you an express pass would be really worth it. It would be better to buy tickets in advance from online resellers like Klook so you don’t have to wait in line to buy tickets when you get to the park. You just have to scan the QR code on your mobile phone to enter the park.
We went straight for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as soon as we entered the park, and after taking some pictures we fell in line to enter Hogwarts. The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride was worth the very long wait. It was probably the best ride I ever had among all the theme parks I have visited. It’s definitely a ride you should not miss in Universal Studios Japan. However, we were too tired from the long wait to bother falling in line for other rides. So we just took pictures of the shops.
Of course after the ride is souvenir shopping time. One does not leave a theme park without a souvenir, right? Below is a price list for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter must haves:
Wand – ¥4,900
Hogwarts robe – ¥14,000
Scarf – ¥5,300
Rest assured that the number of zeroes are correct. I was thinking of buying a Gryffindor scarf before I got there but circumstances changed my mind. I wouldn’t mind buying a wand at that price if only it works. Still I couldn’t leave the park empty-handed so I settled for a time turner keychain. It costs ¥1800. Ridiculous price for a keychain but I need to have something tangible to prove my love for Harry Potter.
My friends and I left Hogwarts with heavy hearts, mostly because we couldn’t afford to buy souvenirs. So we just strolled around Hogsmeade and drank butterbeer. Butterbeer is non-alcoholic and surprisingly tasted good. It costs ¥600 per cup and ¥1,100 if it comes with a souvenir mug.
When we left The Wizarding World of Harry Potter there was nothing else to do but stroll and take pictures. We were too tired to fall in line for other rides. And some rides are closed during winter. Then we remembered that we hadn’t eaten lunch. Food is very expensive inside the park so we didn’t eat in restaurants. Good thing the park was not strict with food from outside so we were able to bring snacks. However, we couldn’t turn our backs on a really yummy looking turkey leg.
Since we had nothing else to do but stroll, we couldn’t help noticing some rich kids shopping for souvenirs as if they were shopping for grocery. They pick up items and throw them in their shopping baskets without even looking at the prices. Mind you those souvenirs are really pricey. Some kids left the park wearing a complete Hogwarts ensemble, with wands to top it off. There was a Minion popcorn container that I really wanted to buy (because I love the Minions) but couldn’t because it costs ¥3200. I kept telling myself that I went there to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, nothing more. This is one of those places where budget travelers like me think about where we went wrong in life to not be able to buy such ridiculously expensive things that we can’t even use in our daily lives. No matter how much I try to convince myself to be contented with my life, I still think it’s good to be rich.
To sum it all up, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is truly a must-see attraction, a Mecca for Harry Potter fans.