We almost did not make it to Universal Studios Japan because while sending our luggage across the different cities, the Man accidentally packed the tickets into the luggage and it was nearly sent to Gero. Thankfully, we managed to get the luggage routed to our hotel in Osaka and shifted our theme park experience a day later. So yes, that calls for a HOORAY <fist bump> shot!
Halloween was about a month away but it was obviously celebrated in a huge way as Universal Studios Japan (USJ) was dressed in the Halloween festive colours of orange, purple and black. I only wished I knew for I would have totally dressed Bubba in a cute Halloween outfit as we saw many other kids all decked out in their cute costumes and holding a little bag to store the treats that were given out generously by the USJ staff.
On our way to Wonderland, we saw a crowd forming and out of curiosity decided to wait in line to see what characters would come out behind those gates. The Bub was really excited when she saw Hello Kitty walking out and I was too when I realised that it was actually a USJ Sweet Treats Parade. Little kids were given a little bag and could fill up their bags with the complimentary snacks and sweets given out by USJ. The Bub had no clue what to do and had to be guided by Hello Kitty herself to take a packet of cheese crackers. What a sweet start to our visit to USJ.
Next, we headed straight to Wonderland – possibly the only age-appropriate area that Bubba could be in.
For 1000 yen, we decided to participate in this game of skill plus luck where if the 3 balls are aligned diagonally or in a row, we will win a Sesame Street plushie. I thought it would be quite cool for the Man to win it for Bubba who enthusiastically cheered her Daddy the whole time. We were this close to winning but maybe it was a blessing in disguise that we didn’t win else we would have problems trying to stuff the toy in our bulging suitcases.
Stepping inside Sesame Street Fun World is like stepping inside a giant candy store filled with oversized Sesame Street characters. We spent nearly an hour here with Bubba zipping in and out the different play-zones.
She especially loved the Cookie Monster slide playground and we lost count the number of times that she ran up on to the top of the slide on her own. Thankfully the lovely staff from USJ paid special attention to her given that she was relatively tiny still.
I had grand plans of Bubba enjoying Moppy’s Lucky Dance Party which she did as she took the stage and boogied away before Moppy actually made its appearance. She got bored after and didn’t want to follow the dance instructions thereafter.
We decided to call it a day at the Sesame Street Fun World and headed back outside to explore the rest of Wonderland. There were rides that I had hoped that Bubba would be able to take but she still could not meet the minimum height requirement so in the end, we only managed to take the Big Bird’s Big Top Circus and Hello Kitty’s Cupcake Dream ride.
The waiting time for the two rides were not long as well and Bubba enjoyed the spinning cupcakes ride for she got to choose the colour of the cupcake for us to sit in.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
After we were done with Wonderland, we decided that the next other attraction that we had wanted to check off our list was the Harry Potter World. That was more of a highlight for both the Man and myself rather than the Bub so she ended up being dragged along with her parents.
I honestly thought the research that I had done on USJ was sufficient enough to tide us through the day but I was proven wrong. When we reached the heavily gated Harry Potter World, we were told that we need to go somewhere else to get timed tickets in order to enter the attraction. So do keep your entrance ticket close to you, because that’s the only way that you can access the machine to print your timed tickets. I misplaced my entrance ticket and almost cried when I dug through my pockets and bag and could not find that slip of paper that proved that I paid for my entry into USJ. I ended up begging the USJ staff for help and after some deliberation, they decided to issue me the timed ticket entry. Phew! Imagine my relief when I had that timed entry in my hands.
I have to admit as we walked down the tree-lined path to Hogsmeade with the mysterious tinkling music of the Harry Potter theme song playing in the background, there was a feeling of excitement that was in the end. It really felt like we stepped inside the scene of the movie with everything looking so much like what we read in the book and subsequently the movie. The Bub was not amused at all but we dragged her along to take cheesy shots with us at the Hogswart Express.
First order for the day? Quenching our thirst with Butterbeer! The queue for those were long and we decided to split up. The Man queued for the beer while I and the Bub grabbed ourselves a wand over at Ollivanders shop. Well, we can’t quite lurk around the streets of Diagon Alley without a wand right? But what we are to do with the wand now is another question… Haha.. It was interesting purchasing the wand at Ollivanders, it was like the scene of the movie, a group of us entered the shop and Mr Ollivanders was on hand to reenact the scene where Harry Potter was in his store. The Bub was startled by the sound and light effects and wanted to get out of the darkened room. I had to calm her down in front of a slightly large crowd and reassure her that there is nothing to be afraid of. She only calmed down after we were let out of the room.
I guess we are very boring people, we selected Harry Potter’s wand. Safe choice! In conjunction with Halloween, special wands with laser lights reveal magic when the right spell is cast can be purchased. I was so tempted to get those but they were also very fragile and when dropped could potentially break. In view of a toddler who may end up mishandling the wand, I got a simple sturdy one instead.
Getting ready to tour Hogswart! We would have loved to go on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride but with the Bub, it was going to be virtually not possible. So we put the Bub in our tula and decided to tour the castle instead. It still made for an interesting experience navigating the darkened passage ways and trying to remember what actually took place in each scene in the book and the movie.
And that’s a wrap for us at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I guess it was kinda successful, a sleeping Bub was the best part!
Now when the kid sleeps, the parents try to play. We took turns to take a ride of our choice individually with the other person keeping a look-out on the sleeping bub. The only upside to this is probably as single riders, the time spent queuing for rides get shortened quite dramatically. I spent max about 20 minutes in and out of the Jurassic Park ride. And this is how a parent gets to eat and drink with a toddler. Baby-wearing rocks in this case! Hehe..
After the Bub stirred from her nap, we explored the rest of USJ with an outdoor performance with the Sesame Street gang down at Hollywood. Bub really enjoyed grooving to the music and was invited up on stage with the other little kids to show off her moves.
I guess no visit to the theme park is complete without indulging in cheesy family shots. The Bub has not been exposed to Shrek so it took a while before she warmed up to his green appearance. Think whatever the father did to tease Shrek worked for Bubba relaxed after seeing how goofy her dad was.
We had grand plans to stay till the closing of the park thinking that we could indulge in the night activities given that USJ was commemorating Halloween and towards the evening, we saw loads more people dressed in various costumes complete with full-on ghoulish make-up.
The appearance of these dinosaurs signaled the end of our USJ for we thought the Bub would be intrigued when she saw these prehistoric creatures up close. They really look like they were real and to a child, I guess that will be scary. It did work in scaring her for she ended up wailing for a bit and eventually calmed down after we whisked her away from the dino zone.
Kid you not… these dinos are pretty lifelike and when it appeared, it had a couple of kids crying with one screaming for his mother. Thankfully, Bubba slept through it all.
All in all, we had a fab time in USJ! Pity Bubba still isn’t tall enough to take most of the rides but if we do go the next time, I’m almost certain she would be. 🙂
Day 1: Travel to Tokyo – Haneda (PM Flight)
Day 2: Tokyo DisneySea > Dinner at Sushizanmai
Day 3: Shopping at Isetan Shinjuku > Dinner at Ropponggi Hills Club
Day 4: Shinkansen to Kyoto > Dinner at Kichi Kichi > Downtown Kyoto
Day 5: Day trip to Arashiyama > Nishiki Market > Downtown Kyoto (again)
Day 6: Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine > Shinkansen to Osaka > Kuromon Market > Tombori River Cruise > Lucky Owl Cafe > Kushiage Dinner
Day 7: Nara Park > Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan > Shopping along Dontobori > Dinner at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M
Day 8: Universal Studios Japan > Dinner at Izakaya
Day 9: Shinkansen to Gero > Sightseeing around the Town > Onsenji Temple > Kaiseki Dinner
Day 10: Gero Onsen Gasshumura > Foot bath at Yuamiya > Kaiseki Dinner
Day 11: Shinkansen to Nagoya > Downtown Nagoya > Dinner at the Strings Hotel
Day 12: Home Sweet Home
We used pocket wifi from eConnect from Kyoto for the duration of our trip. Complimentary pocket wifi was provided by our host as part of the Air B&B service.