Ntendeni finally crushed Universal Studios Japan off her bucket list.
I spent my December vacation in the Kansai region of Japan. I used the winter vacation to finally crush Osaka and Kyoto off my bucket list. I also visited Himeji, Kobe and Nara since they are easily accessible from Osaka. One grand activity I had to crush off my bucket list was spending the day at Universal Studios Japan. I decided to do it on Christmas.
Express Pass woes
At the end of the day, the money bled was worth all the magic in the park.
Since Christmas day is overcrowded, I decided to be safe by buying an Express Pass. My heart is still bleeding from the money I spent on the pass but I had no choice. Since I have other places I want to visit in Japan, going back to USJ seems unlikely so I wanted to make the most of my time while I was there.
The Express Pass gives a person the authority to jump the queue and save hours by giving them first-class access to the front of the queue for certain rides at certain times of the day. On top of the 7600¥ (67.40$ or R834.84) I had to dish up for the park entrance ticket; I also, reluctantly, angrily, “complainingly”, dished up some ¥ 10,367 (92.46$ ) for the Express Pass that gave me access to the front of the line of four rides in timed slots!
The Express Pass cost more than the park ticket and it was constrained to certain slots! I could not just get access to the rides at any time I wanted even after paying such a large amount of cash! I would expect that, with such an amount spent, I would have to ride as much as I wanted throughout the day, as many times as I wanted and at any time I wanted but No!.
The Express Pass gave Ntendeni royal access to the front of the queues in some sought-after attractions.
The other thing was that I paid a little extra on an English travel agency website because the park website allows you to purchase tickets only in Japanese. I initially asked my Japanese colleague to do it for me but then it required me to be a member of some club of the park! After all the anger and fuming, I had no choice but to buy the pass from an English agency online. And then after doing that, I realised that I could have saved a little if I had bought the pass from another site. Don’t get me started on the fact that for the busy and high demand holiday season, they pump up the prices for the Express Pass by almost double!
After all the trouble though, I made the most of my time at Universal studios. I get to say that I spent Christmas at Universal studios and rode all the Fast-Pass (most popular) rides for the day. The express pass gave me an opportunity to check out other rides while waiting for the timed slots I was allocated to jump the queue at other rides.
Ntendeni was not complaining when she was given a royal access to jump to the front of the hour-long queue for “The Flying Dinosaur” ride.
One time when the Express Pass was worth it was when I jumped to the front of the queue in “The Flying Dinosaur” ride, the coolest roller-coaster ever! I felt like a King jumping the line. Otherwise, I would have had to wait for over an hour to ride it. The Express Pass also gave me access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during the illumination and night show at Hogwarts Castle, followed by a royal access to the famous ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”, which, without the pass, I would not have ridden because the queues were long the whole day. The pass also gave me an opportunity to ride “The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man” twice, once with the pass and once without.
Some rides had long queues for the whole day.
The Express Pass also gave me the opportunity to spend time at other rides that were not covered by the pass, knowing that the other popular rides were guaranteed by the pass. I I used to short single-rider queues to ride “Space Fantasy-The Ride” twice, “Hollywood Dream-The Ride” twice (once because I jumped the queue by mistake and ended in the front thinking I was taking an elevator to the bathroom) and “Hollywood Dream- The Ride- Backdrop”. Towards the end of the night, I ran to “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” ride and it was worth it. It was fun and colourful and better than the 3-D rides I took during the day.
At the end of the day, the Express Pass was worth it, saved me time and allowed me to ride all the important rides for the day; which was important considering I do not plan to go back there anytime soon. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I had to make the most of it.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The entrance feels like a gate to a Harry Potter movie set.
I have never read any Harry Potter books or watched any Harry Potter movies but The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a fun place to be. The pass gave me access to the illumination at Hogwarts Castle at night and gave me access to the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride at the time when the area was closed to anyone without the pass. The entire Harry Potter area and the butter beer were worth all the hype.
Butter beer! It was just as tasty as the hype.
Ntendeni is considering being a fan of Harry Potter after the fun visit.
The fake snow made up for the lack snow during Osaka winter.
“Flight of the Hippogriff” was another Fast-Pass ride Ntendeni enjoyed from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Harry Potter open theatre.
Illuminations at Hogwarts Castle at night.
Creepy but fun Hogwarts Castle at night.
I hate minions so much, I love them. They are annoying and I love them. Minions, and anything to do with them, were not on the agenda during my visit but their annoying cuteness ended up invading my day.
The naughty minions hijacked Ntendeni’s day.
Their cuteness also dominated the parades.
Minion ice-cream sandwich
World-record Christmas tree
Record-breaking most lights on a Christmas tree.
Disneyland can keep their Cinderella castle. Universal Studios slayed Christmas with a Guinness world record-breaking Christmas tree. What a way to close off Christmas night! The illuminations and light shows on the tree were magical.
They don’t call it Universal City for nothing. The theme park and the surrounding areas are vast and they create their own mini-city in Osaka.
There are colourful themed trains that go to the theme park.
It was a memorable Christmas