For movie and pop culture buffs, Universal Studios Theme Park is one of the top attractions where you can enjoy rides inspired by Hollywood blockbusters, TV shows, cartoons and video games produced by Universal Studios. This world-class theme park transports you right inside your all-time-favorite flicks like Jurassic Park, Waterworld and JAWS.
Jurassic Park’s The Flying Dinosaur. Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Japan
There are currently only four Universal Studios in the world located in Hollywood, Orlando, Singapore and Japan. Most Filipino travelers who want to visit the nearest one to the Philippines usually think of Universal Studios Singapore, which contains the Battlestar Galactica: Humans vs. Cylons (duelling roller coasters) and Transformers: The Ride. But there’s a very different energy in Universal Studios Japan (USJ).
While the one in Singapore felt more family and kid-friendly, a lot of the rides in USJ will appeal to kids at heart and adrenaline junkies. Another unique selling point is that it contains The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a themed section based on the Harry Potter movies, which in my opinion is reason alone to book a ticket to Japan. Here are some of highlights and a sneak peek at the Halloween-themed attractions from our visit to the theme park courtesy of Cebu Pacific and USJ.
THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
This is only the third Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park and the only one in Asia (the others are in Orlando and Hollywood), making it the most accessible for Filipino geeks. Everything is recreated in meticulous detail and can be quite overwhelming to take in. The best ride here is Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey, a highly realistic and immersive ride that recreates Hogwarts castle on a grand scale using 4K3D technology.
HALLOWEEN FEAST & BUTTERBEER
There are two themed restaurants in the HP section: Three Broomsticks, a rustic tavern that serves platters and Hog’s Head, a pub. We got to try their autumn special Halloween Feast and Butterbeer, the most popular drink in the Wizarding World. Kids can take it since it’s non-alcoholic!
UNIVERSAL RE-BOOOOOOOORN PARTY
In line with its 15th Anniversary this 2016, Universal Studios Japan has a lot of shows and street parades planned the whole season including The Universal Reborn Party. Though I didn’t understand the what they were saying, the energy of the crowds and performers during the show is pretty infectious.
The cool thing about Japan is how people aren’t afraid to be weird. In fact, weird is normal. It’s not just the street performers who get dressed in costumes. The crowd here is made up of mostly enthusiastic teens, groups of friends and adults going about in matching costumes, who are very willing to pose for you.
Everyone dresses however they want! Couples wear matching outfits, two girl friends dress like twins, or groups of friends (no matter their age) all dress alike to fit a theme. It’s so cute. I felt kind of tame and boring for being in just jeans and shirt. If you want to geek out, this is the place to do it with no judgement. Aside from the energetic crowds, the staff are generally more polite, happy, friendly and accommodating.
HALLOWEEN RE-BOOOOOOOORN MARKET
There are a lot of snacks celebrating flavors of the season that you can enjoy when you visit this autumn. We checked out the offerings at the food carts in the Halloween RE-BOOOOOOOORN Market which included regular-sized BBQ Garlic Turkey Leg and oversized versions wrapped in bacon. Let me repeat, that’s a chunk of turkey leg meat wrapped in bacon. BACON! This thing is huge and good for sharing.
Other unique treats are Halloween costume cookies that you can pose with, matcha churros and colorful churritos.
JURASSIC PARK’S THE FLYING DINOSAUR
For those who like roller coasters, a must-try attraction is The Flying Dinosaur in Jurassic Park. You are suspended face down (as if you’re in the grip of a Pteranodon), with your arms and legs dangling in the air on the coaster that makes several loops including going completely upside down. This ride is the world’s longest flying roller coaster, with the world’s greatest height differences.
This is the most exhilarating roller coaster I’ve tried in my life. You really feel like you’re soaring at breakneck speeds through the sky. It’s the closest thing you’ll feel to flying and it’s an unbelievably awesome ride. This (along with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) is one of my favorite rides. Highly recommended!
NOTE: GoPros not allowed because it could fall down, but check out this feature on the Flying Dinosaur coaster on a Japanese show.
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF SPIDER MAN: THE RIDE
This is another immersive 4K3D ride that puts you in the shoes of Spiderman battling villains throughout skyscrapers in New York. It’s a bit anticlimactic if you try it after riding Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey or The Flying Dinosaur, but it’s still pretty fun.
FINNEGAN’S BAR & GRILLE
We had dinner at Finnegan’s Bar & Grille, an Irish pub hosted by Suntory Liquors Limited in the New York section right across the Spiderman ride.
We got to sample their special Halloween spread which included Onion Blossom and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie. I really liked their green Mint Beer!
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS
I love horror films and there are a lot of horror attractions in time for Halloween including horror houses, walk through mazes and stage shows. Some of them only open at 6 pm, but we got to try two mazes which open at 12 noon. NOTE: Visitors are not allowed to take photos inside the horror houses. Unwatermarked photos were provided by USJ.
THE EXORCIST: A HOUSE OF EXORCISM
The Exorcist is a horror house where you have to walk through a house of exorcism as a group. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it’s really fun. If you get scared easily, be sure to stay in the middle of the pack 🙂
TATARI: CURSE OF THE LIVING DOLL
This is another creepy walkthrough horror house that revolves around the curse of a living doll. While I didn’t understand what the characters were saying (they all speak Japanese), the props and whole vibe of the place will send chills down your spine. It was like entering a Silent Hill game. Really creepy and definitely recommended!
The other horror attractions (which we didn’t get to try) include:
- Trauma 2: The Experimental Hospital Ward of Horror
- Gakko no Kaidan: The Cursed Attraction
- Chucky’s Horror Factory 3
- Sadako: The Cursed Attraction
- A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Maze 2
NOTE: Pre-school aged children can not enter these attractions due to the extreme nature of the content.
At night (starting 6 pm), the streets of USJ get infested with zombies, which adds to the fun Halloween atmosphere. Don’t worry, the zombies are perfectly safe. They mostly just like to groan and scare people, but never touch or attack anyone. They’re also known to break into dance numbers like Michael Jackson’s Thriller every so often.
JAPANESE HORROR AREA
At night, the Japanese Horror Area where the seasonal attractions are located takes on a much creepier atmosphere. Be sure to check it out.
DEATH EATERS ATTACK
If you have time to return to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at night, you can catch the Death Eater Attack, a street entertainment show at night recreating the historic battle between Harry and Dumbledore’s Army against Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
These are just a few reasons to visit Universal Studios Japan this coming autumn! Halloween attractions will only run until November 6. But if it’s too late to plan your trip, this year, you can always enjoy the main theme park rides all year around.
NOTE: This trip was made possible by Cebu Pacific, JG Summit Holdings Inc. and Universal Studios Japan.
Cebu Pacific is the only Philippine low-cost carrier flying between Manila and Osaka. Flights are five times weekly with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP6,399. Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book through http://bit.ly/CEBOsakaflights or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.
#CEBFliesOsaka souvenir group shot with Pinoy Travel Bloggers: Lilliane of Wanderlass, Mervz of Pinoy Adventurista, Len of JG Summit, Aleah of Solitary Wanderer, Me, Marky of Nomadic Experiences, Glenn of The Poor Traveler, Marge of Coffeehan/P.S. I’m On My Way, Melo of Out of Town Blog, Gael of The Pinay Solo Backpacker & Jed of Biyaherong Barat
RATES / ENTRANCE FEE TICKETS (including tax):
1 Day Studio Pass:
- Adult (12 years old and above): 7,400 yen
- Senior (over 65): 6,650 yen
- Children (4 to 11 years old): 4,980 yen
2 Day Studio Pass: (consecutive 2-day ticket)
- Adult (12 years old and above): 12,450 yen
- Children (4 to 11 years old): 8,420 yen
TRAVEL TIPS AND USEFUL INFO:
- It can get pretty crowded especially during weekends and holidays, so plan your trip accordingly.
- One group representative can bring everyone’s studio passes to get timed entry tickets for the entire group.
- You can skip the lines by purchasing the Express Pass, which shortens your waiting time for designated popular attractions so you can maximize your time at USJ.
- Aside from shortening waiting time for rides, the Express Pass has a variety of other VIP benefits.
- The Check-in Pass lets you enjoy the other parts of Universal Studios Japan until immediately before the show begins without having to save your seating spot. You can smoothly enter the reserved area and comfortably enjoy the show when other audience areas are very crowded.
- Guests are not allowed to bring lunch boxes, drinks or other personal food and beverage items to consume in the park.
- While photography and videography is allowed throughout the park, for security reasons it’s not allowed in the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride & the Halloween attractions like The Exorcist and Tatari.
- For more details, rates and tickets, visit: https://www.usj.co.jp/
NOTE: Unwatermarked photos courtesy of Universal Studios Japan