As a member of the generation who grew up with Harry Potter, going to Universal Studios was a dream come true. Actually, this entire trip is a fulfillment of a childhood dream. I was captivated by Japan mostly because of anime and manga but I was even more excited to visit the country when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter came alive. Everything about this trip is a manifestation of all my dreams. Now I can say that dreams really do come true.
How to Get There:
The hotel we stayed in is 10 minutes away from Ishizugawa station which is quite far from Osaka. It is halfway: in between Kansai International Airport and Osaka but a little nearer to the latter. We had to take the JR line (local) and get off at Shin-Imamiya station. From there we had to transfer to the JR loop line (headed for Taisho station) and get off at Nishi-Kujo station. From there we had to transfer to another line and get off at Universal City Station. Universal Studios is about 5 minutes walk from the station. It is not hard to find because all you have to do is follow the flow of people. Quite palpably, all of you getting off at that station is headed for Universal Studios. I am unsure how much the train ride costs because my mom paid for it. But if I remember correctly, from Ishizugawa to Universal City is 550 yen.
My mom and I decided to go to Universal Studios very early that day because we were expecting the queue to be long. We planned to get to the vicinity by 6AM but because our flight was delayed, it took us 3 hours at immigration and we had to search for about an hour to get to our hotel, we woke up late and got to Universal Studios at around 8AM. The queue was as expected (long) but it was moving quite fast. It took us only 15 minutes to purchase our tickets despite the long queue but the next challenge is actually entering. There was no line and everyone was just lining up everywhere. There were also so many kids in strollers which took a lot of space and it was raining hard. It took us quite some time to get inside and from there we headed straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter because we were just too excited about it. You need to fall in line again and get a another ticket to enter the area. There is ticket machine where you have to choose the time you wish to enter. We chose the 9:30AM one as that is the earliest and it will print out a slip you have to show to the staff at the entrance before he/she can let you in.
Ticket to Universal Studios is 7,200 yen for adults inclusive of tax. However, this is the regular day pass. I am not sure how much the express pass is but it is definitely more expensive. You can choose 5 express pass or 7 express pass. This ticket allows you 5 or 7 express passes to the major attractions such as the 4K3D Harry Potter ride, 4K3D Spiderman ride, Biohazard, etc. My mom and I were supposed to purchase the express pass to avoid the long queue. You can purchase the express pass at travel agencies. Ask the travel agency that will process your visa on how you can purchase this (visa to Japan for Filipinos are processed by travel agencies. You cannot go direct to the Japan Embassy). But due to certain circumstances, my mom forgot about buying so when we asked the travel agency, we can no longer purchase as they need at least 1 week to process this. They have to order the ticket from Japan and then it will be couriered here in the Philippines that is why they need at least 1 week.
There is only one ride inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which is the 4K3D ride. It took us 1 hour and 30 minutes to fall in line but it was definitely worth it. I may not be able to understand what the characters were saying because it is all in Japanese but the ride was exciting and worth waiting in line for. It lasted for just 5 minutes but I was so happy. It was something different and something I have never experienced (because we have crappy amusement parks here). If only we had the express pass, we would only have to queue for maybe 15-30 minutes. I highly recommend this ride.
The whole area was just a small part of Universal Studios but Hogsmeade and Hogwarts were exactly how they looked like in the movies. If only it wasn't raining so hard when we were there, we would have been able to look around and take better pictures. There are also a lot of souvenir shops inside: Honeyduke's, Ollivander's, Owl Post, etc. Though there were a lot of people, going here was definitely worth it - the highlight of my Universal Studios Japan trip!