As a Potterhead (Harry Potter fanatic is what that is) through and through, one of my biggest dreams in life is to actually exist in the magical wizarding world of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe. But despite being 93.65% sure that I am actually a witch, my invitation from Hogwarts never arrived. The owl carrying the letter must have lost its way.
BUT – there is salvation. In 2014, Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan unveiled its newest (and best, IMO) attraction—the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened its gates to muggles and Potterheads in this side of the world reveled in their newfound hope of sharing a taste in all the magic. I know, because I’ve been dreaming of setting foot there, too. And this year, it finally happened.
And guys, let me tell you this – IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL. I mean, yes, you’re probably seen it in pictures. On Facebook from that friend of yours who’s always traveling, or on Instagram’s explore page. And yes, it looks nice in pictures, but really, honestly, and I am not exaggerating, it is even more spectacular in real life. I wasn’t expecting to be so blown away by it, but I really was.
So, to all the Hogwarts hopefuls out there like me, if you’ve been waiting for a sign to go to Osaka and experience the magic yourself, this is it.
And to convince you further, I’ve made a list here of just some of the amazing things you’ll find at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Japan!
7. The flying car
You’ll know you’re about to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Japan when you find yourself in a pathway in the middle of the woods, and the Harry Potter theme song is playing somewhat overhead. Visitors are donning robes and Hogwarts house scarves, and just the sight of those all with the music perfectly setting the mood was enough to send shivers down my spine. But when I took a turn, there it was—the Weasley’s magical turquoise Ford Anglia, aka the flying car, crashed against a tree in the Forbidden Forest. The car Ron used to rescue Harry from his bedroom prison. And my Potterhead heart melted.
The cobble stone streets and snow-capped houses and buildings of the town of Hogsmeade are what will welcome you as you finally enter the Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Japan. And the feels are real, you guys. Ironically, walking through the streets of Hogsmeade, more than a dream that has finally come true, will make you feel nostalgic and reminiscent. This is your childhood, after all.
The attention to details is crazy. Am I still in Japan? Honestly, there’s a part of me that wants to believe that all that was actually real—that the moment I walked through Forbidden Forest, I was transported to another realm where magic actually exists. And in Universal Studios Japan, it kinda does.
5. The Hogwarts Express
How can this be the Harry Potter world without the Hogwarts Express, the famous maroon and black steam train that transports young wizards to Hogwarts? You’ll see it there in a corner once you enter Hogsmeade, with a whistling sound that beckons at visitors to embark on this magical journey. Plus, let’s not forget that this is also where our favorite wizards, Harry, Ron, and Hermione met. Ahh, this is indeed the road to Hogwarts!
Photo from Paolo Fernandez @paolofz
Photo from Paolo Fernandez @paolofz
Well, you can’t be a wizard and not own a wand. Somewhere in the back alleys of this wizarding town is Diagon Alley, where you’ll find Ollivanders—the best wand shop in the wizarding world. This is where all young wizards get their first wands, like Harry, and ehem, now you. Just look at those shelves full of wands!
And don’t forget: it’s levi-OH-sah. Not levio-SAH.
3. Three Broomsticks
Come on. You can’t go to Hogsmeade and not stop by Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s favorite tavern, right? This is what’s so amazing about the Harry Potter attraction in Universal Studios Japan. You’d think these rustic snow-capped buildings are just props, but they’re actual shops or restaurants you can enter. It was a cold and rainy winter day in Japan when I was there, and a stop at Three Broomsticks was just the perfect way to sit back and relax for a bit. The interiors of the tavern is so authentic and beauuutiful, plus! Know what they actually serve here like in the books??? BUTTERBEER.
Guys, listen to me. Butterbeer is real and it is THE BEST. You have a choice of having the butterbeer either cold or hot, and since it was in the middle of winter, I ordered the hot one. And, I kid you not, hot butterbeer is like a big warm hug in a cup. How can a drink taste so comforting??! (And no, it’s not really beer.) You need to try this, I swear.
1. Hogwarts Castle
And of course. The main attraction. Hogwarts Castle! I could see Hogwarts the moment I entered Universal Studios (it’s an actual huge castle guys, omg), and my heart was just set on getting to that castle the entire day spent in Universal Studios Japan. It’s also sitting behind the lovely town of Hogsmeade, right next to the Great Lake that’s also famous in the books and movies.
Inside Hogwarts is where you’ll find the absolutely thrilling motion-based indoor ride called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. You’ll sit in dangling carriages, 3D glasses on, as you ride with Harry Potter on a broomstick all over and above Hogwarts. Aside from the 4D experience, you’ll also witness incredible animatronics within the ride. My favorite would have to be the part inside the Forbidden Forest, with the giant spiders crawling about and—gulp—larger than life dementors. The part of the ride’s a little spooky, to be honest, but also quite the best.
Honestly, I think I cried, giggled, and went crazy a little too many times inside Universal Studios Japan’s Harry Potter attraction, but I’m pretty sure this is not the first time that’s happened to anyone who’s stepped inside that world. I am writing this because, guys, it truly is incredible over there and I genuinely want you all (especially Potterheads like me!) to experience the magic first-hand, too.
Ready to experience the wizarding world yourself???
I got my tickets through travel booking website and app Klook, which is the most convenient way to book your Universal Studios Japan experience. All you have to do is go to their website or download the app, and book your ticket through there!
Here are four ticket options for Universal Studios Japan:
- Universal Studios Japan 1 Day E-Ticket – BUY HERE
- Universal Studios Japan Royal Express Pass (so you can skip the long lines cos who got time for that??) – BUY HERE
- Universal Studios Japan Express Pass 4 (skip the lines at some of the park’s best rides like the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) – BUY HERE
- Universal Studios Japan 1.5 Day Pass Ticket (entrance and access to Universal Studios Japan rides for a day and a half!) – BUY HERE
And when you purchase your Universal Studios Japan tickets from Klook, you can use the mobile e-voucher to be sent to you as your entrance to the park—which will save you more time.
Want to see more of Univsersal Studios Japan? See When in Manila KC’s Japan travel guide on 10 Amazing Things You Should Not Miss in Universal Studios Japan
I’m ready to go back to Universal Studios Japan! See you there?