This is going to be a very long and likely rambling post; for the past three years I’ve missed my chance to visit WWoHP at Universal Studios Japan. When I finally did go, in my excitement I photographed everything from doorknobs to spigots.
Lots and lots and lots of pictures below the cut.
The morning of our trip, we left very early, just a quick bite for breakfast and we were off to catch the train! My hair was a mess and I had only half my makeup on, but given the choice between getting there early and getting my eyeshadow done, I picked the former.
Everyone has to take a shot beside the beautiful Hogwarts Express train. Later in the day it was jam packed with park-goers but for the time being it was still very quiet. On peak days (Fridays~Sundays) people sprint to WWoHP because the park implements timed entry tickets to control congestion. Luckily we went on a Thursday, so we were free to just walk into Hogsmeade.
There are two rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. One is a ‘dark ride’, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and the other is a rollercoaster, Flight of the Hippogriff.
I have no stomach for rollercoasters, so we lined up for the Forbidden Journey. Lockers are provided for you to put your stuff in; better to stick your hat in than lose it, as the ride is just as ‘active’ as most rollercoasters.
Of course, ‘stuff’ includes my camera, so I have no photos of the actual ride, sorry. It was great fun, though if you have a tendency toward motion sickness I’d suggest you take a Bonamine before the ride.
Hold that thought! USJ has a brilliant solution in that there is a separate queue for those who just want to ogle the amazing production design, and not take the ride. It’s genius, I got into this line and spent a good long while trying to get my camera to focus in the darkness without a tripod.
After you get off the ride, you exit through the gift shop(!) and as always there is lots to see. There is a huge variety of merchandise, but I avoided buying anything bulky or breakable, and bought House charms.
But wait, there’s more! Surely you didn’t believe that WWoHP only has one gift shop? Instead, almost every shop in the High Street is full of merchandise!
The crowd favorite was Ollivanders, packed even on an early weekday morning. There was an extra cart outside the shop, selling more wands. Business is booming for the old wand maker.
If you buy a wand, you can perform ‘Wand Magic’ at certain spots in WWoHP. I didn’t buy one however, because I already had a wand:
Pictured: selfie stick. Cannot perform Wingardium Leviosa, but connects wirelessly with Bluetooth and has a 3-setting bulb for perfect illumination. Batteries not needed, as it charges via USB-C.
Most of the stores are connected; Honeydukes melds into Zonko’s/Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. The windows were full of activity, but sadly it doesn’t photograph well (window glare)
Gladrags leads into Owl Post, which in turn leads to Dervish & Banges. How on earth do wizards ever get their mail when the office is deluged in packages?
It must be… magic! *ding
Now, all this is a feast for the eyes- but what do you actually eat when at WWoHP? There are two street carts selling butterbeer, and one selling turkey legs(?) or some other finger food- but for an actual meal, there’s just one place to go.
The Three Broomsticks is absolutely fascinating. There’s a queue to order, but plenty to ogle while you wait. The food costs an arm and a (chicken) leg, but it was delicious. No vegan options for those on a strict diet, however. There were lights lit and luggage left out on the upstairs floors, to give the impression of an inn. I believe they fused the elements from the major inns, because they also serve an alcoholic Hogs’ Head brew.
And on the subject of drinks…
There are two butterbeer carts in WWoHP. The one near the front of Hogsmeade usually has a line twice as long as the second cart, near Flight of the Hippogriff. There’s hot and cold versions available, and you can choose between a disposable plastic cup, a souvenir plastic stein, and a premium metal stein (at correspondingly premium prices)
There were also stores that weren’t open to the public; I think they might be staff buildings. Even if they’re just fronts, they were still fascinating. Even the bathroom has Myrtle’s voice cackling over the sound system.
USJ doesn’t have fireworks except on special occasions like New Year’s Eve, but we still hung around to wait for the evening illumination. It got very cold as the sun went down- luckily the outdoor space at the back of the Three Broomsticks is heated. It has a great view of Hogwarts Castle too!
The winter season has slightly different illumination; you could see snow forming slowly on the rocks below Hogwarts, and simulated flakes falling.
Thanks for reading to the end! It was a great trip, I’d love to go again. These actually aren’t all the photos, but I’ll probably only be uploading larger files (video) on Facebook.
For the original coordinate post and WIP, see: Houses of Hogwarts: Slytherin