Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Magical Day (Part 2)

OK. So, to continue my story from last time, we stayed in Hotel Keihan inside Universal City. Because of that, we were granted early admission in the park. Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is open from 9:30am to 7pm on weekdays and until 9pm on weekends. We were able to get in at 9am along with the other hotel guests, so we had at least 30 minutes advantage.

Of course, we went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter first. There were 2 rides in that part and a lot of shops and displays that replicates movie Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. The castle was just as I imagined, surrounded by the Black Lake and the Forbidden Forest.

Inside the castle, guests must leave their belongings in the provided lockers before the ride, so I was not able to get pictures of the interior. The waiting areas display the different parts of the castle like Dumbledore's office, Gryffindor common room (with the Fat Lady singing at the door), DADA classroom, and the stairwell with the talking portraits. At the end is the ride itself, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It is 4D and 3D at the same time! We get to ride in a chair-lift type vessel (for lack of better word) and given 3D glasses. It was like watching a movie while riding a roller coaster. We get to fly with Harry through the forest, the Chamber of Secrets and around the Quidditch arena. We fought spiders, dementors, dragons, and escaped the Whomping Willow. It was amazing!

After that, we tried Flight of the Hippogriff, which is basically a small roller coaster in open area. We did see Buckbeak and Hagird's hut with his motorcycle just outside. Since we were very early, the only people during our turn was me and Rina-san (capacity: 20, passenger: 2) and we were sitting in the front seat. Good thing I finally managed my fear of falling a few years before. Whew!

We finished both rides in under an hour, so we decided to buy some souvenirs in case we can't reenter the area later on. We visited Honeyduke's and bought Chocolate Frogs, Rina-san also bought Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans as souvenir for Goto-san. Then we went to Zonko's where I finally saw Pygmy Puffs. We also went to Dervish and Banges to buy some more souvenirs. We hang out outside the Three Broomsticks waiting for it to open so we can buy Butterbeers.

OMG! Butterbeer is fantastic! Tastes like caramel, butter, vanilla and heaven! We also got to bring home the mugs from the store, so had a great drink and a unique souvenir all in one. I will really miss the taste of that magical drink.

We were deciding what to do next when a staff member stopped us to see a show. There was a wand demonstration in Ollivander's Shop! We got in and an assistant explained some stuff I didn't understand (Nihonggo) then we went into an inner room where an American (I guessed based on his accent) actor was playing as Ollivander's assistant. He was speaking in English and Nihonggo so I got to understand what was happening. He chose a random audience and gave her wands to try. Just like Harry in the book 1, she had to sample a couple of mismatches (causing drawers to open randomly and lighting to strike), before finding her wand (ash with unicorn hair - and a beam of light shone on her). That was the end of the demo, but I'm not sure if she got to keep the wand. (If she did, I am totally jealous!)

When we finally had our fill of the Harry Potter-ness, we decided to move on and enjoy other rides in USJ. But before we leave HP World, we had to take more pictures with the very realistic dislays scattered around the area.

So, we went around USJ to find more exciting rides. Apparently, they really love roller coasters as almost every attraction uses roller coasters with just different backgrounds and action. We fought villains alongside The Amazing Spiderman, and time-traveled with Doc in Back to the Future. We had a surprising ride in Space Fantasy - The Ride, which we originally thought to be a mellow attraction.

Then we watched an interactive show in Transformer 2, as well 4D theater of Evangelion. And since Shingeki no Kyoujin is quite famous not just in Japan but in Philippines as well, we decided to see the walking tour attraction in USJ. They showed a sort of summary of the whole plot with matching displays of the characters in the position they died in the anime. Too bad I can't understand the narratives, but the pictures were clear. I realized I don't want to watch this anime because there are too many gores (can't handle blood).

So, my post is getting too long again. I will continue this trilogy on the next part. Here is a random photo for you while you wait the ending of my adventure. See you!

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