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I solemnly reckon that you play this playlist to relive the magic.
Fun fact: These songs are played throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
I didn’t have any intention of revisiting Japan again after my past 2 trips, but when my sister asked if I’d go with her, I agreed on one condition: Let me spend an entire day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan (USJ).
We arrived at USJ at around 10am, and didn’t bother to get an Express Pass (queue was too long anyway) and headed straight for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Vaguely remembering the layout of the theme park from my last trip and with my friend, Sarah‘s words “It’s just right before JAWS and Jurassic Park” in my head, we made our way to the Stone Circle, hoping to be amongst the first to be able to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter without a Timed Entry Pass.
USJ introduced the Timed Entry Pass for the Wizarding World as a means to control the crowd. You may only enter during the time stated on the pass, but once you’re in, you can stay in the Wizarding World as long as you like.
So, we did have to get a Timed Entry Pass, but luckily we only had to wait for an hour which we spent walking around the theme park until 11am. We tried our luck by going back to the Stone Circle 15 minutes earlier, and we were allowed in!
“Hedwig’s Theme” (in the playlist above) greeted us as we walked through the edges Forbidden Forest, where we meet the flying Ford Anglia. And, like wherever we’ve been in Japan, the locals always, always, always will politely queue up to take turns taking photos so each and everyone goes home with a nice shot.
Both my sister and I gasped when we saw Hogsmeade with their crooked roofs and (fake) snow, and again, as advised by Sarah, we skipped the shops and went straight to Hogwarts to queue for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride.
I may or may not have cried out “Omg, it’s Hogwarts!” and screamed internally when I laid eyes on the castle.
I may or may not have done a little happy dance too.
Without the Express Pass, we lined up for almost 2 hours for the barely-10 minute ride, but the line moved very quickly from outside the castle, to Herbology class then finally inside the castle. The moving paintings in the castle area eerily realistic, and you’d feel like you’re a full-fledged Hogwarts student.
It was heartwarming to see Harry and the gang waving goodbye to you at the end of the ride, and my eyes went straight to the tallest of the group: the Weasley twins!
Yes, plural. Fred is alive. *cries in Japanese*
Another fun fact: The girls’ washrooms look exactly like the one where the troll attack occurred in Philosopher’s Stone.
Another super fun fact: You’ll hear Moaning Myrtle crying in the washroom… in Japanese!
We spent almost the entire day in the shops at Hogsmeade, perusing each and every merchandise, asking myself “Do I NEED this ceramic Chocolate Frogs box?” and “If I get the Marauder’s Map, how the heck do I display it?”
I ended up getting a Gryffindor scarf and a Time Turner keychain for myself, which proves that my overexcited self lost this battle to my rational self.
The day was very chilly although the sun was shining brightly with blue skies (which makes for lovely photos), so off we went to the Three Broomsticks (also one of Sarah’s suggestions) for Butterbeer (non-alcoholic btw), which is like a creamier version of root beer. Get the one with the take-home mug!
Why? Because hanging out at the Three Broomsticks is way cooler than at the Butterbeer cart.
Honeydukes was packed to the brim, just like in the books and movies. No, there isn’t a secret passageway to the castle. I checked.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a must-visit, even more so if you’re a Potterhead like yours truly.
The display windows are not to be missed too as their attention to detail is astounding.
The staff (in their lovely House robes) really go the extra mile to make your visit much more memorable, and would always acknowledge your House if they spot a House scarf, badge or robes on you.
There was once when I was sitting on a bench, waiting for my sister, and a group of performers in Hogwarts robes walked past me. The Gryffindor member must’ve seen my scarf and bellowed to me “Hello fellow Gryffindor!” in the most Gryffindor voice you could ever imagine.
I, the Ravenclaw in the Gryffindor scarf, could only muster a sad, muffled “Hello!” in the cold. #GryffindorImpostor
Beauxbaton and Durmstrang students aside, I’d say the park takes you back to the time period post-Chamber of Secrets and pre-Prisoner of Azkaban, as evidenced by the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, Gilderoy Lockhart’s books and Sirius Black’s Wanted poster.
And that also means that no character has been killed — or worse, expelled.