Now staying in Osaka, it was only a short train journey from our hotel to Universal Studios.
Universal Studios Japan
For years I’d been obsessed with watching videos of the Universal Studios parks online so I was extremely excited to finally get to one.
We arrived to a massive queue at the entrance and started to get worried. Thankfully things were just moving slowly because everyone was buying fast track packages with their entrance tickets. It seemed a bit strange to me to buy fast track before you knew how busy the park was, not to mention it massively slows down entry. This wouldn’t be the only slightly dirty trick Universal pulled to sell fast track, they were adding up to 30 minutes extra onto some queue times, which seems a bit desperate from a park chain as massive as them but alas, money.
Space Fantasy The Ride – Space Fantasy was sadly in a VR overlay when we visted. So instead of getting a supposed World class attraction, we got giant robots destroying the city, what a disappointment.
Jaws – The classic Universal attraction I’d seen so many times online and I loved it! It helped even more that our skipper was fantastic.
Jurassic Park The Ride – Another Universal classic and once again outstanding. The attention to detail is breathtaking, the animatronics were awesome and the drop was even more intense than I expected, I can’t praise this enough.
Backdraft – The park’s special effects show and ignoring the boring preshows Backdraft was amazing. I love fire effects and I’m super interested in movie special effects, so it was clear I was going to enjoy it but it ended up being so much more intense than I was ready for.
Spiderman – My first experience of this amazing ride technology and I can see why it won many awards and spawned copy cats, it’s incredible. Easily one of the best dark rides in the World, an absolute joy from start to finish.
Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter had never really interested me, despite being a huge fan of the books and not against laughing at how bad the movies are. With that in mind I went into the Wizarding World with low expections and yeah, it was fine I suppose. I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t look massively impressive because it does, it just doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t think it helps itself either with how busy and cramped the area is, plus all the super expensive merchandise on sale really makes it scream cash grab to me. All the power in the World to you if you love the Wizarding World but it’s not for me.
I went into Forbidden Journey with equally low expections and even then somehow managed to walk away disappointed.
Firstly just getting on the ride was a major hassle. Thousands of people everywhere outside the queue, then you enter the castle and have to pick between castle walkthrough or Forbidden Journey but it’s not sign posted well and there’s people everywhere so good luck with that. Then you get to a massive room full of lockers, full of tons of people all faffing about, then finally you can ride.
I’ve since ridden a Chinese knock off that’s so much better than Forbidden Journey and has further helped me to explain why Forbbiden Journey isn’t for me.
3D glasses, screens 2 inches from your face, crazy out of control robot arm and everything going 1000 miles an hour. At best it’s a bit of a mess, at worst it’s motion sickness. What’s even more annoying is how short it is and that it basically just showcases scenes from the movies in a “best of” Harry Potter vibe.
Terminator 2 3D – Much like Backdraft if you ignore the hours long preshow that’s only in Japanese, then T2 3D is amazing. I’m a massive fan of Terminator and this show took that and went crazy with it, there’s just so much awesome stuff going on it’s hard to keep up.
Now for Universal Japan’s big guns, their 2 custom B&M monsters.
Hollywood Dream: The Ride – At the time of riding this was my 2nd ever B&M hyper coaster and I really enjoyed it. Having now ridden quite a few B&M hyper coasters it’s even better than I gave it credit for at the time.
3 things make Hollywood Dream amazing.
1 – Combining the tried and tested B&M hyper air time with lots of twists and turns.
2 – Having on board audio.
3 – BACKWARDS! While Hollywood Dream forwards is great fun, riding it not knowing what’s about to happen is fantastic, surprise airtime is so much more intense. On our last ride of the day, we rode backwards with intense anime music playing and it’s something I’ll never forget.
Flying Dinosaur – I wasn’t expecting this to be one of the best roller coasters in the World, but it is. I didn’t think B&M or their flying coaster model was capable of making one of the most intense coasters ever made, but they did.
Easily one of the most intense coasters in the World, body crushing forces, perfectly paced and all while flying, this coaster is unbelievable, there really isn’t anything else to say.
We had planned to end our day watching the Hogwarts projection show but due to major faff related to the Wizarding World we only managed to catch the last 5 minutes and it was laughably bad, so thankfully we didn’t miss much.
Universal Studios Japan is home to some seriously fantastic attractions but as a park it never really did anything super special. I never had my “OMG I’m at Universal Studios” moment and the staff never went out of their way to improve my experience. Small probably pointless complaints I know but this is Universal Studios after all.
Thanks for reading, click here for day 7 and an awful experience at Nagashima Spa Land…