Just like any other kid, I waited patiently for my Hogwarts letter to arrive. And.... it didn't. :(
I fell in love with the world by J.K. Rowling after the first book and the rest is history. I would even pre-order books, starting from the fourth book onwards. The extra money spent was worth it because I was able to read the books immediately!
I've always yearned for something more physical, a place I could visit. If the books could transport me to a magical world, what more a physical place?
The closest I've gotten to anything was a Harry Potter exhibition in Singapore a few years back. Until now. :)
The Harry Potter Wizarding World in Universal Studios Japan is the real deal. I haven't been to the one in Orlando or anywhere else so I can't compare, but this was pretty much a dream come true.
That's definitely the highlight of the park too. I preferred the rides in Universal Studios Singapore to be honest, maybe due to the language barriers.
|You could also tell that it was the highlight of the park, even the trains were decked with all things Harry Potter.|
|More notices that got us excited on our way to the park.|
|Just before the entrance!|
We bought the Express Pass which allowed us to get a timed-entry into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If we didn't have that, there's a risk of not getting tickets there AT ALL because it will run out. Nope, not risking that!
This part of the park is so exclusive that you can't see anything from outside. You'll have to line up and make your way through a path, surrounded only by trees. It's quite enjoyable because you can hear creatures in the background - we're in the forbidden forest!
|You'll recognise this - Ron Weasley's car!|
|Welcome to Hogsmeade! Yes, it was terribly crowded there. :(|
|We were welcomed by a very lovely train conductor.|
|Hello Hogwarts Express!|
|There's even a timetable for the trains.|
The city of Hogsmeade is exactly like I imagined it to be. Just that... maybe not so crowded and hot?
You'll recall many of the shops here, including Zonko's and Ollivanders.
|A chocolate frog display.|
|You can dine in Three Broomsticks, just pay up!|
Another highlight of the park - BUTTERBEER! There's no alcohol involved, don't worry. I wish I knew what butterbeer is supposed to taste like. There's different variations out there but I'd imagine it to be cooling and frothy. Yums!
It was also a good way to cool off, no thanks to the crazy heat and the crowd!
|The line for butterbeer.|
|It's not too pricey too, I got one with the butterbeer mug as a souvenir!|
|My refreshing cup of Butterbeer :D|
The park has several attractions but if you're looking for rides, it's down to two.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a MUST if you're there. We got to skip the cue because our Express Pass worked for this too. Yay!
Despite the story being told in Japanese (it's kinda odd hearing Harry and friends speaking Japanese), the ride had a nice mixture of 3D effects and and actual sculptures/beings/buildings.
Highlights: Experience riding a broomstick and trying to catch the golden snitch. Experience Dementors trying to suck the life out of you.
We had to keep our belongings in the locker so I didn't get to snap any pics. It's not worth it to bring any loose items with you because the ride moves a lot. At some parts, it felt like it's going 360 degrees!
We didn't go for the Flight of the Hippogriff (the only other ride) because the wait was too long. Plus, it's meant more for the kids so it didn't feel like we're missing out on anything.
|All aboard the Hippogriff express!|
One of the worthwhile attractions to visit is the Castle Walk. The waiting time was only 10 minutes so it's a relief to all of us.
It's everything you've seen in the movies replicated in a HUGE castle - Hogwarts.
|Yep, that's Hogwarts from afar!|
|Point system for all the houses.|
|At the entrance to Dumbledore's office. The pic is pretty blurry but it's the best we go with the dark lighting inside.|
|Talking pictures on the wall. That's Rowena Ravenclaw! :D|
|Can you hear the Fat Lady sing?|
I loved the castle walk, they really pay attention to the finer details. Being a fan of Harry Potter, I was fangirling at everything about this place because it felt like I was walking into a movie set. I wished we could have seen more - the Great Hall, common rooms and so on. But I'm not complaining!
Another "hidden" attraction is a magic show. It's located next to some shops and I didn't notice it until I saw people lining up. There was no sign but just a clock showing how many minutes you'll have to wait for it.
Since we had time, we lined up and it was actually a magic show inside Ollivanders!
|The secret entrance! :D|
|We start off here, until a secret door opens. ;)|
|Now the real show begins.|
|And of all people, I was the lucky one chosen to be his subject for the day. Thanks for making my day! :')|
|I had to go through several wands before I found the "perfect" one. I caused flowers to wilt and even a thunderstorm! Hahaha.|
|At the end of it, I got a very special wand (unlike any other out there) and I was given a special price of 3.800 yen if I wanted it. But.. I don't see a point in getting one.|
They also had some perfomances at the "town square" and we managed to catch the Triwizard dance - between the Dumstrang boys and the Beauxbatons girls!
|The elegant ladies performing.|
|Ladies and gentleman making their way out.|
Even if you don't feel like going for rides and attractions, you'll enjoy just walking around Hogsmeade and taking in all the sights.
|Up close. ;)|
|Many souvenirs caught my attention but I couldn't get them all!|
|I fell in love in so many of their items on sale!|
|Hogwarts uniform and scarfs for sale!|
|This dude was carrying a live owl around so I couldn't resist taking a pic with him!|
|Brooms for sale!|
|Oops. Looks like no one had time to clean up the owl poop.|
|Before we left, we couldn't resist trying on the robes.|
It's indeed a blessing to visit the place I could only dream of. Thank you Wizarding World of Harry Potter for making my trip much more memorable and I hope the love for the spellbounding world will continue, even for generations to come.