After Enoshima we only had one thing in our agenda, go to Osaka to watch the Baseball game between Hanshin Tigers and Tokyo Giants, at the Koshien stadium. But that was 2 days away. By now you should know about our love for theme parks and roller coasters, so we decided to go earlier to Osaka and visit the Universal Studios, where on the 15th had opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a park area featuring Harry Potter. This was a big opportunity, because it was something very new, and only the second one in the whole world (the first one opened this June in Orlando, Florida).
So, the day before heading to Osaka, we walked around Harajuku, explored the neighborhood, discovered new places and fell in love with it all over again.
We first went to Shinjuku for some ramen.
And we also had time for some bowling.
On the way to Harajuku we found a Kinfolk exhibit.
And in “our” neighborhood we found a nice place to have dinner, where everything was grilled and served on a stick and was absolutely delicious.
And that’s how our last day in Harajuku went. It’s definitely a place I’ll miss dearly, and will forever hold close to my heart.
The next day we got up at 5 to get the first train out to Osaka. We got to the Universal Studios pretty early in the day and embarked on a new roller coaster adventure.
The park is very pretty. Everything looks nice and is very detailed, but I felt it didn’t have as many rides as I was expecting.
We rode the Jurassic Park one, where we got absolutely soaked wet, and that was really really nice. The ride was very true to the movie, and the little details, like the broken fences and the electric sparks coming from it, gave it a really nice feel. But the highlight was definitely Hogsmeade. On the way to that park area, you start getting surrounded by big pine trees, and it really feels like you’re entering a whole new world, leaving everything else behind. Just before arriving to Hogsmeade we get to see the Weasley’s enchanted car (if you don’t now the story, the car flies and ultimately gets lost in the Forbidden Forest, around Hogwarts).
Even for people who don’t like Harry Potter it’s a wonderful view: Hogsmeade, a tiny village with shops and crooked roofs and chimneys, covered in white, with the Hogwarts express station on the right. The first thing to do is definitely have a Butterbeer! And it’s the most delicious and weird thing I have ever drank! It looks like beer, but it’s light and sweet and tingly all at the same time.
Next stop, Ollivander’s! Where you can buy any wand you want. You can even buy the Elder’s wand! Before you enter the shop, you get to see Ollivander and see him perform exactly the same lines as with Harry Potter himself, “The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter”, but not before you try a few other wands with horrific effects on the store.
After that you can ride the Buckbeak’s ride, the Hippogriff’s ride, where you get to see the whole village from above and you get a nice view of Buckbeak himself!
And after that, you enter Hogwarts. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures from the inside of the ride, because I didn’t take my phone. We were required to leave our belongings in lockers before we went in, and because I didn’t have any pockets, so I left the phone in the locker. But let me tell you now, it’s amazing. You first have to wait around in line, in the greenhouses of Hogwarts, and you get to see the crying Mandrakes and a few other items needed for any Herbology class, and you enter the Castle through the corridor that leads to Dumbledore’s office. You see the golden eagle gargoyle guarding the Headmaster’s office before you get to the place, as it should be, and the office is just awesome. Very very detailed and very true to the movies. You even get to see the Pensieve. And of course there’s a hologram of Dumbledores himself, talking to the audience. After that you walk through more corridors and staircases, passing through Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and a place where all portraits on the wall speak (and freaking look like real portraits!), before you get to Gryffindor Common Room. And then you get on the ride. And it’s sooooooo amazing!
The ride is a suspended one, which means you sit on a car thing and your feet and hanging around. You tumble and turn upside down, and get shook around, passing through the Whomping Willow, little Aragorns (giant tarantulas), which made me freak out a little – they were just way too close – and a whole army of Dementors that are so scary that even K was a tiny bit shaken up from them.
It is a very long but fun ride, where Harry flies you out of danger on his broomstick, back to the Great Hall where you get to see nearly all characters, waving at you and the enchanted candles floating in the air.
And I cannot stress this enough, it’s amazing. Keoshi is not a Harry Potter fan, but he really really enjoyed everything in it (going there was his idea in the first place!), because it’s very unique and special, and it’s very well thought out. One definitely feels it’s another world.
Our day at Universal Studios ended with the parade, and with us having dinner at Hard Rock Cafe.
It was one very exciting, very special and very tiring day.
Have a great Monday!