Finally! The most awaited and most exciting, most amazing, most magnificent part of the whole Universal Studios Japan trip. For an entire day we waited and waited for our chance to get inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of the park (long story short: I misread the blog and the time indicated in our express passes) and for a Harry Potter fanboy, this was the moment I have been waiting for.
From the moment we started walking down a tree-lined path, hearing noises from the so-called “Forbidden Forest”, and spying the Weasley’s old and busted Ford Anglia, I was practically jumping up and down and very eager to get in. When I heard the familiar Harry Potter theme song, the arch with its vast sign, I suddenly felt at home.
My mind was whizzing and buzzing, the same can be said for the crowd that was also moving to and fro, catching…soaking every bit of this magical place. The speakers were blaring out familiar tunes from the movie and the avenue was lined with familiar names: Dervish and Banges, Zonko’s, Honeydukes, Borgins and Burkes, Wiseacre’s, and Ollivanders. We made a beeline for Zonko’s, which happened to be part of Honeydukes as well and every conceivable Honeydukes’ sweet was on display: Fizzing Whizbees, Bertie Botts’ Every Flavored Beans, and Chocolate Frogs. At this point, I was practically dying with fandom, unfortunately I had to limit myself or else I wouldn’t have money left for the rest of my trip. In Honeydukes/Zonko’s I settled for a Chocolate Frog (¥1,200 or Php. 600~) and the possibility of getting Dumbledore as a card.
With a bit of pushing and prodding from one another and promises to go back once we’ve checked the entire park, we made our way to the end of Hogsmeade. At first glance you would take it for granted, the castle spires just above the roofs of the stores or the treetops, glimpses here and there, that vivid memory you have of Hogwarts in the movies or in your literary imagination doesn’t prepare you at all. The moment I saw Hogwarts castle, my mouth just dropped to the floor and I couldn’t help let out a big “WOW”. This was the castle of my dreams, this was where Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, Hermione, the Weasley’s, and every member of the Order and the Death Eaters studied. The best part about seeing the castle? We got to go inside it for the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride.
Inside, Hogwarts, the portraits and the Sorting Hat were talking, Dumbledore was in his office, Harry and the two were in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. The castle captured every nook, cranny, detail, and experience for all their guests to enjoy. Even the ride, which was in Japanese, was also enjoyable: thrilling, exhilarating, nostalgic. Nostalgic because every character I grew up watching on the big screen was there, cheering you on or joining you in the adventure. It nearly left me teary-eyed. The ride’s exit led us to Filch’s Emporium, this was the one place I had been waiting for, because it was the one place where I could get the Marauder’s Map.
Our next stop was Ollivander’s, where we were treated to the famous “wand choosing”. Here, a representative of Ollivander’s randomly chooses a member of the audience to flick and swish random wands until the “wand finally chooses its wizard”. It was an enjoyable experience, made even more memorable because Ollivander’s representative was a British guy who spoke BOTH English and Japanese, thus making it a funny experience. After the whole show, we were ushered to the actual store where shelves upon shelves were laden with wands. By this point I was practically dying of fandom and giddy with excitement. There were wands from Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco Malfoy, Neville Longbottom, Lupin, Moody, Luna and all the other major characters. Bellatrix’s wand really stood out because of its unique design, Voldemort’s was intriguing but a bit on the weird side. We really took our time going through each one, I was also torn. I had to choose one wand and I had narrowed it down to: Lupin, Moody and Dumbledore. Long story short, I chose Dumbledore because he’s the ultimate geek and the best professor in the world (¥4,900 or Php. 2,450 for the interactive wand and ¥4,500 or Php. 2,250 for the non-interactive one).
All throughout the Wizarding World, there were touches here and there that perfectly captured J.K. Rowling’s world, the bathrooms had a Japanese speaking Moaning Myrtle bugging you every now and then. Cast walked around in their Durmstrang, Beauxbaton’s, or Hogwarts uniforms, and people with interactive wands (like me!) were swishing and flicking in front of storefronts just to activate the spells. It was all so beautiful and just downright amazing! To end our stay in the Wizarding World, we lined up one last time, not for a ride, but to finally try out the famous Butterbeer. For ¥500 (Php. 250) we got a plastic cup filled with froth and a caramel brown liquid, the drink tasted like our local candy, butter ball with some fizz in it. It’s a sweet drink, made even sweeter by the froth on top of it, but once you’ve moved past the froth it’s just another ordinary soda.
In the end, we were quite reluctant to leave. This was the part of the park that I really wanted to explore and spend time in. This was truly the best part of Universal Studios and certainly the most memorable one. Visiting the Wizarding World was truly a magical and memorable experience.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
An express pass is not needed to access this part of the park. The express pass can be used on the following rides: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff.