We visited Universal Studios Japan in September 2016, during Halloween times. We bought the ticket before knowing it was Halloween – not the wisest, move since our kids are scared of zombies.
It wasn’t the best weather day, but it was what we had as we were leaving Osaka on the next day. We’d had a typhoon and 2 holidays during our week in Osaka, and this was the best day we could find. To be really honest, it was the BEST weather for theme parks: cloudy and warm.
We arrived early, a bit after 9 just after the park opened. Since we’d bought the tickets online, through the USJ club, we had to go to Guest Services and exchange our online bad code to actual printed tickets. It took around 20 minutes, and the lady wanted to see my registration, proof of identity and it was a long wait until it was over. They were overly nice and respectful throughout the process, though.
It was the 15th USJ anniversary and it was full, even though it was a regular weekday. Very full.
Super unexpected to us, but apparently the staff knew it would be like this.
We entered and there was the sign saying that timed-entry ticket to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was being issued and we ran towards it. They give out timed entry tickets to TWWHP when the park is full, and it’s free of charge. This is how they control it so it’s not overcrowded. We walked around the park for a good 20 minutes until we arrived at the booth. Got our tickets to 3 pm (it was a bit before 10 am), even though we had the option of 11 am because we wanted to see the sunset from there and see the Death Eaters that were supposed to appear after dark.
From there, we went to Wonderland, where there’s the Hello Kitty, Snoopy, and Elmo – the place for little kids. It’s designed for the littlest, not the best place for older kids. It isn’t full of adrenalin and roller coasters, but it’s so pretty, colorful and joyful that we ended up spending a lot of time there. It’s the only place in the park where they issue Yoyakunori, the equivalent to Disney’s Fastpass for free, a timed ticket that allows you to cut the line to a specific attraction. It’s pretty useful because some attractions there had super long (70+) minutes waiting time.
Wonderland had one very annoying thing (besides the long lines): the songs. There were 10 or so famous songs sung by kids that played over and over and over. It was kinda cute on the first 3 times, but then it started getting on our nerves.
Around 11:30, we went for lunch at the Snoopy’s Backlot Café. They serve burgers and sandwiches, and they come on cute little Snoopy boxes, but the food isn’t even near good. We also got ourselves some flavored popcorn too, and the caramel popcorn was good. We had lots of it. We got the Elmo car bucket and filled it 4 or 5 times.
Snoopy’s Studio is adorable, we spent a lot of time inside the Sound Stage Adventure because of the indoor playground, which was adorable. Snoopy’s Great Race is a roller coaster and it was fun. It’s made for little kids, but it’s faster than we thought it would be. The Flying Snoopy had the longest waiting line in the area and one of the 2 we got Yoyakunori for. We didn’t feel the need to get it for the other rides.
Hello Kitty Fashion Adventure has 2 attractions and we visited only the Cupcake Dream. You enter the cupcake and it spins and goes around the field. It’s more fun than it looks.
*They do not let you enter the line 5 minutes before your time if you’re using Yoyakunori.
Sesame Street land was bigger, but we didn’t really play around a lot. We went to Elmo’s Go-Go Skateboard, the 3 older kids went to Sesame’s Big Drive and said it was super boring and slow while Coral rode on Elmo’s Little Drive and absolutely loved it.
We then started going towards The Wizarding World and stopped by Space Fantasy. Angelo couldn’t ride and it was a 1-hour line, so we went to it and left him free to roam (we thought he was going to do one of the Halloween Specials but he ended up staying to see the RE-BOOOOOOOOOORN parade. We managed to see bits of it from the line.
At the entrance, we were asked to leave all belongings in the locker and we left everything outside. Boohoo. We could’ve taken our phones with us, scanned it and something may have happened. We don’t know, though, because we left our phones with Angelo. Space Fantasy is a roller coaster in the dark that simulates a ride through space. It’s pretty cool, we all (including Coral) loved it.
Angelo also loved the RE-BOOOOOOOOOORN parade, and we loved the little bits we could see from the line. It was a great distraction from the long and boring line.
We found Angelo waiting for us and we headed to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was AWESOME!
We first needed to show our timed entry tickets by the amazing rocks and walk through the Forbidden Forest. The Weasleys’ Ford Anglia was there, and it flashed lights and made sounds, super cool.
By then, something amazing had happened: we stopped hearing the sounds from outside, all we could hear was Harry Potter songs, the forest animals and the chatter of amazement from everyone who was entering it. And maybe, just maybe, my cries of joy.
Hogsmeade was incredible, just like the one in Florida. Hogwarts Express was there and people could enter and take some photos inside. We’d ridden it in Florida and the line was pretty long so we skipped it.
We were going to head straight to Hogwarts, but The Flight of the Hippogriff’s line was only 10 minutes long so we rode it first. Coral loves this ride and it was the only one she could ride in the area. We ended up riding it twice. At the line, there’s Hagrid’s hut and Sirius’ bike. From the hut, we can hear Fang barking. From this line, there’s also the best photo spot (in my opinion) of USJ, where we could see Hogwarts Castle and the Flight of the Hippogriff’s cart together (the one from the photo above). At sunset, it was pretty magical. I highly suggest you take the regular line at least once so you can see and take photos of Hagrid’s hut up close.
The Flight of the Hippogriff is a mild roller coaster, fun for all.
The line to The Forbidden Journey was long, the longest we had, but it’s great, a lot of fun from beginning to end. The attention to details is great, we could really feel in Hogwarts. It said it would take around 90 minutes, but it took around 70. Coral couldn’t ride, so we needed the Child Switch Card. It was given to us right at the entrance of the line, and we had to show it several times until the point where we actually separated into 2 groups: Melissa, Coral and I went to the waiting room while Angelo, João, and José went to ride. The waiting area is in character and it plays a Harry Potter movie. We got there while Professor Quirrell was taking off his turban and showing Voldemort at the back of his head and it scared Coral a bit, but she kept watching anyway. They were back in around 10 minutes and kept Coral company at the waiting room while Melissa and I went to ride it. That’s when we had to deliver the child switch card for good. It’s probably the best ride in USJ, but I always end up feeling queasy afterward.
When we finished riding it, wandered around Filch’s Emporium, we went right back to do the Castle Walk, which I love even more than the ride. The Castle walk had no line at all and it’s incredible to walk through the castle in our own time, see the little details and just feel the magic. So very cool!
When we left the Castle Walk, it was getting dark. We walked a bit to take a few photos of Hogwarts Castle at the sunset and we rode The Flight of The Hippogriff again. It was incredibly beautiful by the sunset.
We left the rides and went to walk around the shops. We walked through all of them, got ourselves a butterbeer and waited for the Death Eaters. We didn’t have to wait for long.
There were some fireworks signaling the beginning of the Dark Hour and soon enough the Death Eaters appeared. Along with them, 2 wizards and they battled. It was cool.
But then we had done all the things we wanted at the Wizarding World.
It was probably then that it dawned on my kids that there would be zombies around. We were heading towards Hollywood Dream but we saw them: the zombies. And they were pretty scary, very real. They didn’t attack us but the kids were crying loudly by then. We got lost and ended up in the Jurassic Park area. Coral wanted to ride Jurassic Park – The Ride, so we went there. The line was zombie free and they settled a bit, but they were still shaken. The ride was a bit dark and scary and it didn’t help much but the 25.9-meter drop lightened our mood.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last for long.
I stopped by the shop to ask for a zombie-free path, but there wasn’t one. I was told that Wonderland was a zombie-free area and even though we’d already seen it, we decided we were going there. The kids completely gave up Hollywood Dream and we spent our last moments hearing the annoying songs again. After riding the same things a few more times, having some more popcorn and resting, we decided it was time to go. And we left through a special path to those afraid of zombies, a bit after 9 pm.
A lot of restaurants at City Walk had closed already and we ended up going to Hard Rock Café. It was super expensive, but we had a good meal and a good rest before going home.
OK, so here are my thoughts on USJ’s Halloween: It’s AWESOME! The zombies are super real, cool, they walk around and never touch anyone. If your kids are OK with zombies, do it for sure. If they aren’t, it’s probably a good idea to let it go. We didn’t enjoy at all the last 3 hours we were there. Maybe we should’ve done all the stuff outside of Wonderland first and then spent the rest of the evening there. The Death Eaters aren’t too scary, probably because they don’t have blood or open wounds, or even weapons. For us, it was a bit of a fail.
Check it out!!!