My daughter and my wife are the big fan of Harry Potter. And they wanted to visit Universal Studio Japan in Osaka to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This trip report is not related to the train travel and there are many resources of Universal Studio Japan. However my trip report may help you for your visit to USJ. I will share my experience with you in this post.
- How busy is USJ in the spring break in late March.
- The train was very crowded.
- The gate was open earlier than the scheduled time. But it was expected.
- Limited number of entry to Wizarding World in the evening only
- I got a motion sickness by riding Harry Potter Forbidden Journey.
- Ollivanders wand is pricey but lots of fun.
- We got the center front row seats to see Water World by 45 minutes wait.
- It was easy to secure the table in the dining.
- It was also easy to get the space to watch the parade.
- I felt that everything was easy. I think I compared Disneyland and USJ.
How busy is USJ in the spring break in late March.
I was there on March 25th, 2019, Monday. It was the last day of the public school in Osaka. The spring break of the public school is usually from March 25th to April 7th. But in this period, there are lots of graduates from the high school. The school period in Japan is April to March. The graduates finish the school earlier than other lower grade. And there are also lots of college students because they have a longer spring break. Before I visited there, I researched and tried to find how busy USJ would be. Even through it is one of weekdays, most online sites said that the congestion rate was quite high. Those said the second or third grade of congestion rate from the top.
When I got there, I checked the waiting time of the popular attractions. It was quite long. I waited on the line for “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”. I spent more than 2 hours on the line. Some other attractions required more than 3 hours waiting.
It was busy but I don’t think everything was busy. I will tell you the reason why.
The train was very crowded.
The common way to get USJ is taking a train. You will take JR Osaka Kanjo line (Osaka loop line) or Hanshin Railway to get Nishikujo and change the trains there. You will take JR Yumesaki line to get Universal City station. I took this route when I visited USJ. I was at Nishikujo station around 7:45 am. JR Yumesaki line train was very very crowded. Many passengers tried to squeeze in the train just before the departure from Nishikujo station. In my feeling, it was like the morning rush train in Tokyo.
If you wait at Nishikujo station and take next one, you can get a seat. in the train. It is much more comfortable. However Universal City station is only two stations away from Nishikujo and it takes only 5 minutes. And you will lose 10 minutes at USJ. And also if you want to get USJ as early as possible, this 10 minutes is very important. Many visitors wait for opening the gate before open. If you take next train and spend extra 10 minutes, 1,000 visitors could be ahead of you. You should wait or take next one. The choice is yours.
The gate was open earlier than the scheduled time. But it was expected.
The official site said the gate opened at 8:30 am. But I heard that the gate opens before the scheduled time very often. We tried to get there by 7:45 am but we were very behind the schedule. When we got the gate, it was already 8:15 am. The fate was already opened at that time as my expectation. I could not find the exact time of the gate open. But it opens around 7:45 very often when it is busy and the scheduled open is 8:30 am.
I spent 15 minutes to go through the entrance gate. When we got there, the gate was opened already. Many visitors had already gone through the gate. Probably that is why the line was moving quickly. However I felt it moved very quickly.
Limited number of entry to Wizarding World in the evening only
The biggest reason to come USJ is this. I had heard that USJ had the limited number of entry to Wizarding World in the busy season. We were hurry to get there and were ready for picking up the numbered ticket if we needed. However we could enter there without any restrictions. I asked the staff at the entrance of Wizarding World and he said we did not have any limited number of entrance now.
However USJ held the Wizarding World of Harry Potter 5th year’s anniversary on that day. We were back to Wizarding World in the evening and it had the limited number of entry to Wizarding World. I planned to see the parade after this show. I had to enter Wizarding World at that time and I rushed to get the numbered ticket. I worried that I could not get the numbered ticket but I could get it on time.
The Wizarding World in the evening has a different atmosphere from the day. It is very popular to see there in the night even if it does not hold any special event. Please keep it in your mind.
I got a motion sickness by riding Harry Potter Forbidden Journey.
This was only full-scale ride which we got on. We skipped most rides because we are not big fans of the screaming ride. I had no plans to ride this and we intended to walk in the Hogwarts castle which is called “Castle Walk”. But we found that we had to line up in the same line for Forbidden Journey and Castle Walk. This line was divided in the middle of the way. We changed our mind at the junction and tried to ride. Though we waited for two hours.
I actually got drunk as the title. I was imagining that the seats moved and the 4D visual world spread there. But the seats moved extremely hard in all directions, up, down, front, back, left, and right. If I was on this ride for a few more minutes, I would go straight to the bathroom.
Ollivanders wand is pricey but lots of fun.
Speaking of Harry Potter, it is the wizard wand. There are lots of wands at the Ollivanders store. There are two kinds of wands available, original wand and magical wand. The original wand is a just replica. The magical wand is equipped with sensors that allow you to experience magic throughout the Wizarding World.
The price is 4,500 yen for the original and 4,900 yen for the magical. There is only 400 yen difference. Magical Wand is more recommended.
My daughter bought a girl’s favorite, Hermione’s wand. Then she bought the robe too. The wand was 4,900 yen and the robe is 14,000 yen. It was such a great expense!
We got the center front row seats to see Water World by 45 minutes wait.
We lined up from 14:45 to see the final performance at 15:30 of Water World in that day. And we got seats with the angle and distance in the photo above. Actually I could take much better seats on the front row. But it was chilly on that day and we didn’t want to get wet. So we took the slightly backward seats on purpose.
Even at the opening time, there were still lots of seats available.
It was easy to secure the table in the dining.
As we were eating and walking around noon, I didn’t eat in the restaurant. But I tried to secure the seat in the restaurant before anniversary castle show at night in Wizarding World around 19:00. I started to look for the restaurant from about 17:45. I looked around at the Mel’s Drive Inn, the Studio Stars restaurant in the Hollywood area, and the Finnegans Bar & Grill in the New York area. All of these restaurants were able to enter without waiting. I finally went to Louise N.Y. Pizza Parlor because my daughter wanted to eat pizza. This restaurant is a cafeteria style. I spent 10 minutes to order in line and receive it. It was not bad. The table was secured by my daughter and my wife in the meantime. I was able to finish the meal without wasting time.
It was also easy to get the space to watch the parade.
I was in a schedule to watch the parade from 20:00 after seeing the the castle light-up show of the Harry Potter from 19:15. So I was concerned that I could get a good place to see the parade. When I went to the route of the parade, there were lots spaces available at the road edge on the parade route. We could easily get a higher place on the edge of the flower bed. We could see the parade more easily and it was so easy to get a space.
I felt that everything was easy. I think I compared Disneyland and USJ.
I heard some people said “USJ is crowded, but Tokyo Disneyland is more crowded”. As a result of actually trying it, I completely agree with this.
Certainly, many popular rides required 2 hours or more wait. But there was no waiting for 1 hour for eating except the specialized restaurant, such as Three Broomsticks of Harry Potter. I felt that it was totally different from Tokyo Disneyland. In my experience in Tokyo Disneyland, I spent more than 20 minutes to buy just a churro.
Even though the crowded index in USJ was so high, I felt comfortable because I compared USJ and Tokyo Disneyland. I visited Tokyo Disneyland in same season before. It was very very crowded. I spent many minutes to do everything. If I have never been to Tokyo Disneyland and visited USJ, my impression may be different.
And the other reason is that we are not big fan of screaming rides. If our biggest reason to USJ was riding this type of attractions, I had to make the detailed plan and waited at the gate before open. But if you are easy visiter like up, you do not have to rush.
But if you visit there in Halloween or Christmas season, you may spend many minutes to do anything. But if you have an experience to visit Tokyo Disneyland, everything is easy in USJ in my opinion.
That is all of my experience. I hope this trip report may help you to visit USJ.