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TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

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^ OMG, you have no idea!


even the sushi sold at the 7-11's was incredible (tho those were mainly Nigiri pieces, or lots of varieties of Onigiri (with several of them containing fish options))


The Kobe Nigiri I had early in this report was likely the best thing I ate on the whole trip (non-Disney)


by far tho, the Sashimi options blew me away. . . I even tried Horse Sashimi (it wasn't bad. . a little gamey, it reminded me of Vennison).


So, So good.


It took me over 40 years to realize my dream of getting to visit Japan. I'd love to go back in the future too.

I highly recommend you go for it - save up and go. . it's a fantastic experience.

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^ See you there again in.....say......2025, Bert? That's what we're saving for, for a future visit.

With all of the new stuff open and running, in both parks. Glad you finally got a first visit there.


Chag Sameach, Bert & Nick!

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It seemed that I'd already done a heck of a lot in Japan, and seen a ton (and I had). but this morning, Thurs, 10/10, was actually the "true" start of the trip with TPR.


Everyone that would be along with us had arrived, and this morning we were to be checked out of Shinagawa Prince Hotel, and head to Osaka for the first Official stop on this October/Halloween trip: Universal Studios Japan.


We met down in the lobby, and got ready to head to the Shinagawa station with Bags in hand.


Today was the day I (and I suspect many) had been looking forwards to the most thus far: traveling via Shinkansen (the Bullet Trains).


Before we got going, Elissa gathered us around to offer an update on Typhoon Hagibis. It was still a major storm (I believe it may have even been Category 5 on this morning), it was bigger than the entire Country of Japan. . but it was moving very slowly - so there was no telling what day exactly it was going to hit. . tho it was looking like Friday Night/Saturday.


This was good news for our full day at USJ the next day, but there was no guarantee that the park would stay open the entire day on Friday if a gigantic Typhoon was headed towards Japan. Elissa was going to keep an eye on the storm updates and keep us all in the loop.. and with that, we grabbed our carry bags, grabbed some snacks for the train from the close convenience store, and we headed across the street to the Shinagawa Station, but this time to the Shinkansen platforms.


We would be taking about a 2 1/2 hour train ride to Shin Osaka, before transferring to a local train for the short ride to Osaka station proper, next to Universal CityWalk, and just up the street from the Hotel we'd be staying in: Hotel Universal Port.


here comes the Shinkansen pulling into the Shinagawa Station (and a few TPR folks, like me, taking pics of it as it arrives).


It was pulling in slowly (duh). . but it's so dang sleek looking. I really had never seen anything like it.


we weren't on the fastest Shinkansen (as Elissa explained those make less stops), but the one we were on was the 2nd fastest, Shinkansen Hikari, which we were able to take with our Rail Passes.


I believe Jon clocked our train on his app as going ~158 MPH during the ride


it's a pretty long train too.


we had reserved seats (a requirement for most of the cars, tho many of front cars are "open seating" with no specific seat reservation required).


Elissa taught us well, and during the trip when we had to take the Shinkensen, we always got reserved seats as a back up, even if we didn't always use them - one time we ended up taking an earlier train and Jon and I just got in an open seats car.


pulling out of the station, you quickly start to pass some lovely countryside.


we weren't up to full speed just yet, so was able to get some fairly clear pics by moving the camera along with the landscape passing us by.


when we hit that ~158 MPH speed tho, I snapped this pic without moving the camera.


yeah. . that's fast.




as we slowed down occasionally to pass thru stations, was able to get some really nice rural pics of Japan, as we headed from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka station.


looking forwards in the car I'm in, with Allison and Alex in the seats in front of me.


the seats are really quite nice. Like a decent airline (and they reclined quite nicely too) and there was a trolley cart going up and down the center aisles every 50 minutes or so, selling snacks and drinks (including hot drinks).


a really nice experience.


a little more "rural" pics, as we passed some more interesting buildings/scenery.


after getting up to use the restroom in the space at the back of the train car (a really roomy space), I stopped and snapped this pic up the central aisle.


note the crawl over the doorway, warning about the approaching typhoon, and how some train services were expected to be suspended.


Also note: the little "balls" at the top of the seat corners, and the "pedals" down at the bottom of the seats.

when the train is going the opposite direction? the Stewards, can step on the pedal and using the ball-grips, rotate the seats! yep, these seats will flip completely around 180 so they face the opposite direction when the train heads that way.


really cool, and something I hadn't even considered would be how they handle the trains when it goes the opposite direction.


and looking out the windows, I got another great glimpse of Mt Fuji. . again with no clouds.


not as close as we had been yesterday at Fuji-Q. . but I would have been thrilled if this was the only view I had gotten of it, since it was still SO clear out.


will only share two pics from the train, since I took so many at Fuji-Q :p


It's actually pretty hilly in these parts of Japan, between the major cities


and a bit more urban than suburbs in places (I guess. . suburban ?).


it was all really interesting, and much more modern in places than I had expected (in the major cities? yes, I had expected very modern. .but these homes here are not "shacks" or "ancient buildings". . I was learning new things every day.



now this? this was something that Jon had been talking about for a few days, and he had gotten a box of 8 the prior day on the way back from the park.


Tokyo Banana


yep, that's what they are called.


they are a sponge (looked kind of like a Twinkie), but filled with a banana custard.


He gave me one of his treats to try.


these are one of the snacks I had grabbed at the 7-11 before leaving Shinagawa.


I had thought they would be nuts of some sort, but ended up being mildly sweet dough-balls.


they reminded me a lot of what I had gotten on a stick the day before at Fuji-Q.


i don't think I ate the whole bag. . but they weren't terrible.


they are smaller than a Twinkie


and much "squishier".. the consistency was more like a "Zinger". . but without any heavy cream top, so they were squishy all over



and inside? OMG. . amazing Banana flavored Custard


Unlike most of the treats I tried in Japan, these were really Sweet - like most American deserts/pastries.

Honestly, I think maybe I could have only eaten 2 of them (since I don't like really sweet things)


but these were so good, and I'm happy I was sitting next to Jon so I got to try one.


one of the very few actual stops on this Shinkensen Hikari, was in Nagoya.


I took several pics of the neighborhood around the Nagoya station as we slowed down to pull in.


the neon continued (and still does) to really enthrall me - even during the daytime, it's a lot of sensory input.


you can see how close the Shinkensen tracks get to some of the buildings in Nagoya


from our stop in the main Nagoya station, I managed to snap a pic of the Hotel we'd be coming back to stay in, in a few days: Meitetsu New Grand Hotel


(which was good, because when we came back in a few days, it wasn't going to be as a big group, so i was happy that I had simply managed to snap a pic of the hotel, so I knew exactly what to look for when we came to Nagoya a few days later).


if it looks like the hotel is covered with electronic ads? That's because the hotel shares it's building with a giant Electronics store - multiple floors (something like floors 2-6) are used by the electronics store, while the hotel has rooms starting on floor 7. Unfortunately, there's no access to the store from the hotel itself, and tho I really did want to go check it out? our days in Nagoya were really full, and just never made it. Tho that's a spoiler for a few days ahead :p


Still, it was cool to accidentally get a pic of our next hotel.


Pulling out from Nagoya, and starting to pick up speed again.


random snaps of Homes, and landscapes. . . giving a nice flavor of this part of Japan.




tho as we came into Kyoto area, we started to see some larger complexes of shared houses/duplex


and some apartment buildings.


our 2nd actual stop on the Shinkensen - Kyoto. . and we are getting fairly close to Shin-Osaka (maybe only 35 minutes or so more until our final stop)


from the Shinkensen, as we're pulling out, you can get a wonderful view of the Pagoda at Toji Temple (which is the largest pagoda in Japan, and is classified as a World Heritage Site).


as much as I regret not having time to go back on our "travel back to Nagoya Day" to check this out (there were simply too many other things that I prioritized doing on that day). .I was thrilled that I got to see this with my own eyes.


even if it was thru the window of a train, passing by.


Still super inspiring to see.


a slightly closer view of Toji Temple's Pagoda, as we pull off.


and before I knew it? we were pulling into the Shin-Osaka Station.


one quick change to a local train, and 1 stop down the line, and we were in Osaka.


When we left the train platforms, instead of exiting towards Universal Citywalk, we went out the opposite direction to the street.


Just up the street (the 2nd one in the back) is our Hotel for our stay here in Osaka: the Hotel Universal Port


(the closer one, Hotel Universal Port Vita, is apparently the newer "sister" hotel, and in Condor's recent trip report to Universal he stayed there if you're curious what the rooms/hotel look like).


but we were at Universal Port - directly across the (side) street from USJ.


you can tell it's an official park hotel, by how decked out the lobby is with Minions displays & photo ops.


(they also have a desk to buy tix to the park here in the hotel, so no reason to line up at the ticket booths at the gates, if you don't have tix yet. I believe there was a slight discount by purchasing here too, if you do).


anyways, as I'll note below, our rooms weren't quite ready yet, so we put it in the corner of the lobby - covered by "protective" netting. . tho that wasn't really needed, since everything is VERY safe in Japan. I think even if the luggage had been sitting out in the middle of the lobby (instead of "netted" over in a corner area), it would have been fine.


While Elissa went to check out the room situation, I had time to roam around the largish lobby and snap some Minion pics.


I really do love how all the photo ops in Japan have little signs with the date on them. Makes for a very easy memory remember queue!


of course, since it was October, these Minions were all in "costume". . . LOL. . love the cape.


More capes, and horns


Minion wrap on the outside of the Elevator doors.


perfect, if a bit overwhelming. . the interiors of the Elevators were Minions & Mirrors *everywhere*


the Main Entrance to the Hotel (we came in the side, past the small store and sweets shop).


if there wasn't a glare, that's the Back of USJ outside across the street.


a peek at the registration/check in counter, with a long fishtank running the length of the desks behind them.


More costumed Minions in the fountain on the other side of the lobby.


you could get a full "Minion" themed room, tho those aren't what we were booked for.

(regardless, our rooms had some Minion stuff in them anyways).


Hi Elissa!


Thanks again for all the work you're putting into this trip to make sure we're all having a great time, and smooth traveling during the visit!


oh, and yeah. . .there's a guy in full scuba gear, just hanging out, cleaning the fish-tank.


tho he did wave at me, when he saw I was taking a picture.


the Original, tentative, plan for today had been that we hang around Universal Citywalk for a little bit, check into Hotel, then meet back over in Citywalk for a group Lunch/Dinner at 4pm. After which we'd have free time in Osaka to go visit Dontonbori, or Umeda areas, or just do whatever we want.




but as Elissa had been keeping an eye on the Typhoon, she called a quick meeting in the lobby, to let us know:


1) the rooms weren't quite ready yet (it was just before 1pm, if I recall), and so we couldn't actually check in until ~3pm - when they expected to have them all available.


2) to hand out everyone's express passes and park tickets for the next day at USJ (we had four separate express passes, since the way that USJ does Express Passes is with certain rides on one of 2 different passes (some with timed slots). Add in Halloween Horror Nights? there were two Evening Express passes to cover the Haunts (and also additional rides).. so total four separate passes). Elissa and Robb had put together a little "cheat sheet" for us, so we could keep track, and that was REALLY appreciated.


& 3) and to let us know the status of the storm, and what impact it was going to have on the plans.


Typhoon Hagibis was still moving slowly, but it was absolutely going to impact our planned visit on Saturday to Central Park Himeji.


The issue was going to be the trains shutting down due to the storm, so although it may have been possible to get to Central Park on Saturday, getting back if the trains shut down would be a real problem (and it would have been about 2 1/4 hour trip each way - a couple of trains, and a 30 minute taxi ride to get to the Park).


So the safest thing to do, was to cut Central Park from the itinerary - which I don't think *anyone* on the trip had an issue with. of the 4 stops on the official itinerary (USJ/TDL-TDS/Nagashima Spaland/Central Park). . . Central Park was the one that I think everyone viewed as the most "missable".. even tho I'm sure it's a fine place, and would love to go there if I ever get back to Japan.


Along those lines, there were no guarantees what time the weather would start to turn tomorrow (on Friday, our day at USJ), so even tho the Park was telling hotel guests it would be open on Friday? there was no way for Universal to guarantee they would be open the full hours (8:30am - 10pm). Adding to some of the uncertainty, was that several of the "big ticket attractions" such as Flying Dinosaur, Backdrop, and the Haunts - were all with evening times on the Express Passes, so there was a very real possibility that the park would be shutting down early on Friday due to the storm.


Realizing this, it was noted that USJ *does* offer a discounted "late day entry", and if we wanted to be sure to get on certain rides, it might be worth our while to go to the park this afternoon.


With that on the table, the group meal for the afternoon was cancelled (in case folks wanted to hit USJ), and we were encouraged to go explore Universal Citywalk, eat something, pick up some snacks at the convenience stores there - as there was no telling if we'd be able to leave the Hotel at all on Saturday, and enjoy our Thurs on Osaka.


a group of us headed off together to Citywalk, going down the street that runs between the front entrance of USJ & Citywalk. . so was able to snap these pics of Hollywood Dream as we walked by it.


hard to see in these pics, but the trains are covered in white glittering lights (the backdrop trains are covered in red lights)



there's the main entrance (from the street. . looking up at the bridge we have to go up to for the Park & Citywalk - on either side)


Now on the bridge, looking towards USJ's main gates, and catching Hollywood Dream just cresting the lift hill, and about to drop.


and turning around the other direction, and looking at Universal Citywalk


not super busy for lunchtime, but I think that's because the park doesn't have in/out privileges for folks to leave the park to go to Citywalk. So most folks over here just hadn't gone into the park (at least not yet) this day.


we walked by this Neon/Blue King Kong a bunch of times, and still not sure if he was just a photo op, or was advertising something (wax museum? restaurant?).


oh well..I treated him as a photo-op.


Lots of interesting food options in Universal Citywalk. . including this place that we ALMOST went to.


a "NEVER in America" place where you deep fry your own food at the table!


We were eyeballing it, and Tabitha & David actually did go here, but some in the group were a little uncomfortable at the lack of sneeze-guards or any coverings over the raw items on the buffet, so the rest of us continued looking at other options.


we ended up, funnily enough, at Yakiniku Karubii Champ - a Japanese Barbeque place - that had been the intended spot for the group lunch!


we didn't realize that until much later, and then had a nice laugh with everyone that we had managed to sorta/kinda stick to the group lunch plan anyways.


the food was ordered via an Ipad type system (something I saw a few times while in Japan), and then the plates of raw, or rare meats/veggies would be delivered to the table, and you cook them yourself on the pit in the center.


I didn't' see any napkins, tho by the drink station, there were some stacks of these neatly folded napkin-like things, so we took a few - even tho they didn't absorb very well.


eventually, we realized they are "bibs". . .LOL.. silly Tourists :p Here's Allison demonstrating the proper way to use this "napkin"


and here's a shot of us at the table with our raw meat, and grill going.


(and I just noticed that I actually still do have my "trainers" on the chopsticks. I thought I had stopped using them earlier in the trip than this!. . but I don't use them at all at home now)


after gorging ourselves on Japanese Barbecue - it was all really good! - it was still only 2pm or so. . so too early to head back to Hotel for check in, so we continued to roam around citywalk, and came across the Takoyaki food court.


yep, at least 8-10 separate stalls, all in one area, all selling different types of Takoyaki (Octopus).


as we were full, we just peeked in, and didn't buy anything. .but made a note to come back by later, or tomorrow.


we then hit up the convenience stores, where some folks picked up Sake to have in the rooms for "Typhoon day" . .or just for later :p


Somewhere in here, Elissa & Robb messaged the group that they had found a small grocery store just behind the TGI Fridays. So we headed that way too, and I (along with a couple of others), picked up a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, bananas, and some snacks. Better to be prepared, and have it - just in case we were in the hotel and lost power in the upcoming storm.


bags full of groceries, we headed back towards the hotel, hoping the rooms would be ready (it was just about 3pm).


here's a shot looking at Osaka from the corner of USJ & across the street from our Hotel (not in this pic).


the rooms were ready, and so we all checked in and headed up.


We (along with David and Tabitha) had decided that we WOULD take advantage of the discounted "twilight" admission to USJ, so we would go relax in the rooms for a little bit, put away any food we had purchased, and meet down at the Ticket Counter in the lobby at 4pm (the park was open till 10, so that would give us over 5 1/2 hours in a park that many of us had never been to).


our rooms were all facing the water, rather than the park (I suspect the park facing rooms were mostly the Minion themed ones), but we all still had lovely views of the water.


and from the windows by the elevators, we could still look out and see the park.


here's my 1st view of Hogwart's. Having never been to a Universal Park as an adult, I was so damn excited to see this, that I took a picture.


Silly, I know. . especially since we'd be IN the park in a couple of hours.


what can I say? Tourist.




this made me laugh. . and I didn't actually wear the slippers at all during our stay in this hotel. (I just stuck to socks)


but it was nice they were there if I wanted to.


This hotel has a separate room for bath/shower, and Toilet, with a little hand wash sink in the toilet room.


I had already gotten fairly accustomed to Japanese Toilets by this point, and was loving them . . but this one was the most complicated one I'd seen thus far.




and as I posted on Facebook when I took this picture?


That button on the far upper right just scares me. . no way, no how, was I gonna push that one!


launch you off the toilet. . .LOL



continued (hopefully in the next couple of days) with part II, as we headed downstairs to the ticket counter, and into the park for the evening.


The view from the window in my room.


I was a tiny bit concerned about having a window facing the water when a Typhoon is coming. . but figured they'd let us know if anything was to become unsafe.


And it really was a lovely view.


the room was really roomy too (I would remember to take pics of it when we got back later, so I'll have room pics in part 2 of this update from Osaka).

Edited by bert425
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Great report! A couple of notes...


- This day we transferred WITH our luggage as we wanted to make sure we had it all same day to check in to the hotel early enough.


- The 'speed' of the trains on the Shinkansen line we were on are all the same. What makes the Nozomi (no rail passes allowed) trains 'faster' is that they make less stops. So again the speed is the same, it's the duration that's shorter. Does that make sense? When we head north of Tokyo on the Shinkansen (not this trip but on others) we go on Shinkansen trains that actually travel at a faster speed than any of the ones you're not allowed to with the rail pass on the busier lines.


- Japanese toilets are terrifying but amazing.


- Minion themed rooms would give me nightmares and I will never book them!

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Great report! A couple of notes...


- This day we transferred WITH our luggage as we wanted to make sure we had it all same day to check in to the hotel early enough.


- Minion themed rooms would give me nightmares and I will never book them!



^ ah. . you're right! We put the luggage over there in the corner of the lobby once we got there and were told rooms weren't ready yet.


that's why it was there. . I'll go edit to correct that!



and agreed 100% on the Minions room. . I have flashbacks just from the inside of the elevators. .



(and yes, that *totally* makes sense on the Shinkansen. . I really thought the other trains went a little bit faster, but if on lines that don't stop as often, that absolutely makes sense why they are faster)

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So at 4pm, we headed down to meet up in the lobby.


the group I was going to be headed to USJ with this late afternoon was: Allison, Zach, Alex, Jon, myself, David, and Tabitha - who's a big Harry Potter fan.


We weren't sure if the Counter in the hotel sold the evening Tickets, but upon checking (and with a bit of English->Japanese pantomime), the lady behind the counter told us they did.


once I had gotten the 1st one, it was pretty easy for everyone else just to come to the counter and say "same please"


I don't recall if any discount was offered beyond the cheaper "twilight" ticket, but it was worth it to take care of this purchase here in the quiet of our hotel lobby, instead of at the front gate ticket booths.


would it be a Universal Ticket Counter in an official USJ Hotel without Minions on the counter?


not sure if these were in "Halloween" costumes, or just standard Minion whackyness. . but this was caveman.


and this guy was Canadian I guess? :p


cute Beaver hat.


tickets in hand, we exited the Hotel and walked just down the street to the main entrance.


Here's Hollywood Dream making the turnaround after the 1st drop, as we headed down the street.


you can kinda see the Tinkling white lights all over the Silver train.




as we got down the hill, just under the turnaround, the next car came, and it was Backdrop - the reverse version of Hollywood Dream (where the trains are backwards).


the Backdrop train is red, and has twinkling red lights on it.


i believe they were running two Hollywood Dream trains, and 1 Backdrop train while we were there.



Just inside the front gates, Lucy was hanging around in her Halloween Costume.


very Egyptian.


so of course, got a pic with her.


I really had no idea who this guy was - but upon asking around, it's apparently Snowball from the Secret Life of Pets movies.


I hadn't seen them, so not sure if this is a popular character or not - tho I didn't see him anywhere else in the park other than near the entrance. (and there was no Secret Life of Pets merch or rides that I saw). . .


while he wasn't mobbed, there were folks around him tho.


but since a USJ costumed character? I stopped to snap a quick pic as walking by.


my first view up the Main Street of any Universal park.


I was kind of surprised that you can clearly see the bridge outside the park, when looking directly down mainstreet - but I guess the USJ park in specific dont' care too much about maintaining sightlines, as zero attempt was being made to "hide" the outside the park bridge. (tho to be fair, it's a pretty cool architectural bridge).


the Canopy over main street was pretty cool, and I loved not only the look it created, but also how it would serve as a shelter if the weather turned nasty. Closer to directly above me in this pic, Hollywood Dream's track also goes across the top of the Canopy, which is a pretty neat part of the ride.


It was pretty busy, tho not super crowded - although the crowds would certainly arrive as it got later and Halloween Horror Nights things started to happen.


my favorite thing about this pic? that 4D theater on the left, showing Sesame Street?


at 6pm, when HHN start in earnest, it becomes an attraction called "Blood Legend" - a Horror Level 3 attraction which recommends "Event may be too intense for young children and is not recommended for children under the age of 13 - Event contains content of an extreme nature! Preschool-age children cannot participate"


in the freaking Sesame Street 4D theater!





(advance Spoiler, we didn't do any HHN stuff on this 1st night, since we had Express Passes for them all the next night. . so instead we just focused on rides. But when I post full day at USJ, I'll note the HHN haunts, and what I thought of them, even if I don't have a lot of pics from them).


Hello Kitty Balloons!


HK is rather big in Japan, and was pretty popular here at USJ. I have a Goth, Male, friend who's a huge Hello Kitty fan, so I tried to take a pic for him whenever I saw HK stuff while on the trip.



USJ was a bit of a treasure trove.


as noted, Tabitha is a huge Harry Potter fan, and since I'd never been to a Universal Park (and I think a few others had never been to the Harry Potter attractions), we took a right from the main walkway and headed towards the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section as our 1st stop.


Taking a right off of the main walkway, brought us out from under the Canopy and right past the Hollywood Dream/Backdrop entrance. And happened to catch the train, which was returning from the turnaround near the front of the park.



a whole Hello Kitty store?


yep, one of several in the park!


heading further up Hollywood Boulevard, we would cut under Hollywood Dream's track when we take the right towards Wizarding World. In this pic, you can see the back half of Hollywood Dreams track, including the double stack helix it does before returning to the station.


I hate (tho it's funny) capturing this woman's yawn in my pic - and posting it. . .but when I try to crop her out, I lose the Helix on the coaster, which i why I snapped the pic in the first place! And blotting her head out just looked . . "rude"


sorry lady. . but it's not like she'll ever see this picture.


The signs were starting to come out in preparation for the HHN "scare zones". . . or "zombie street zones" as they are called on the park map. They warn that "zombies roam the park from 6pm to close every night" (exceptions being the two Safety areas (Minion Park, Universal Wonderland (Kiddie area), & Wizarding World of Harry Potter).


i found the signs to be really adorably designed, and snapped pics of a few of them during our visit.


this is "Monster Zone". . which later had a batcreature, and a wolfcreature running around in the street.


Passing by the entrance to Universal Wonderland (Kiddie area) as we continued towards Wizarding World, this really cute Hello Kitty pumpkin statue was on display.


the Park encourages guests to dress up for Halloween (although there is a fairly large list of "rules" - such as no high-heels or wedge heels, please refrain from extreme reactions such as running away or other dangerous actions, and please refrain from startling other guests, crew members or zombies). . . LOL


there were quite a few folks out in costume (many of which I had no idea what they were dressed as). . but for the most part, everyone in costume that I asked to take a picture of were happy to stop and pose for me, and show off their outfits.


this was on the winding trail headed into Wizarding World.


so was this


and after what seemed like a really long walk back to the Wizarding World section, we were finally here, at the entrance gates.


of course, I had seen pictures. . here on TPR and other places. . . but damn, I was BLOWN AWAY at the detail and how incredible this area looked!


The overcast sky, really added to the feeling of "cold"


tho Allison didn't seem too cold as we walked into the area. . LOL - I tease her because she's awesome


Hogwart's Express.


I didn't get any decent pictures of the Conductors, but I loved that there's a full size train here, and you *could* pose with the Conductor (all Caucasian guys. . so I guess keeping the "English" idea of the Harry Potter IP.


I didn't get a pic with the Conductor, as there was quite a line, and this was just inside the entrance to the land. .so I wanted to see the rest, and get a ride (finally) on Forbidden Journey, something I had heard was a ride that revolutionized the industry.


Yes, it was more crowded in this section than it had been walking over to this section.


but the crowds didn't take me out of the immersive experience


SO well done.


these two ladies had made their costumes out of newspapers.


incredible job.


(and no, I have no idea how I managed to find a relatively empty area to get a decent pic of them!).


the windows at Honeydukes. . . with lots of things moving, and twirling, and doing stuff.


hard to tell in a static picture tho.


a pouring tea fountain in another window at Honeydukes.


ah. . but THIS? THIS is the first stop, from the street cart - the famous Butterbeer.


i followed the advice of others with me, and got the frozen version (slightly more expensive), but it was very good.


Stepping around the corner, my first view of the Castle.


once again, really, really impressive in person.


while standing here sipping our Butterbeers, snapped some pics of Flight of the Hippogriff.


this was not on our agenda tonight, as 1) It had a huge line & 2) we knew we had an earlyish Express Pass for it the next day.


so we weren't too concerned with riding it as we knew we'd likely get on it tomorrow.


It looked like just basically a Rollerskater.. but one with a well themed train.


Alex and I doing the "required" :


"Castle behind us" selfie.


tho I absolutely adore this picture more.


Something about Alex's devious eyes here. .they just say: "SHENANIGANS are coming!!!"




finishing off our Butterbeer before getting in line for Forbidden Journey, there are lots of photo opportunities around the front of the ride.


the gargoyles at the top of the entrance gates to the attraction.


For how many people were in this area, the star attraction line was continually moving. This ride is a people eater, and tho the line seemed rather long (even with long sections of queue not being utlizied), I think we only waited ~25 minutes for our ride).


and the time flew, as the queue offers tons of photo opportunites



from the main queue, a picture down one of the long hallways - that is apparently part of the "Castle Walk" option -- if you just wanted to view the parts of the themed queue without actually riding the attraction.


the main queue funnels thru the basement catacombs, past many doors (some of which make noises, but weren't' very interactive beyond that that I noted).


around the corner from this, is where I believe the free cubbies are, to lock up your stuff (since I see folks with backpacks).


last pic, before I locked up my camera/phone in the free cubby.


Tho we DID see folks taking pictures along the rest of the line (with no castmember asking them not to), so I made a note that when I ride it again to keep my phone in my pocket so I could take pictures in the rest of the castle queue.


the ride was astounding. .. I've never been on anything like it, and I loved it - even tho I'm not a big Harry Potter fan (I haven't seen all of the films even).


we spent the next 10 minutes or so raving about how the heck the ride DOES those things? Loved it, tho we didn't get back in line, as it was already starting to get dark, and there was lots more in the park we wanted to get done tonight.


the area was starting to get really crowded for the Castle Projection show.


we decided that most of us didn't want to stay for that, and instead would rather go do something else if this show was drawing so many people to this area. I believe David and Tabitha stayed in Wizarding World to watch the show tho.


But damn if the castle doesn't look amazing at night, especially with all the natural clouds behind it tonight.


not sure if due to incoming typhoon or not, but wow did it look great.


headed back thru Hogsmeade to go back to the USJ park proper


but not before someone noticed that from the patio dining at Three Broomsticks, one can get an amazing view of Hogwarts.


so we popped in for a moment to snap pics before continuing on.


love the way Hogwarts reflects off the lake here in this pic.




here's where the rest of us headed!


no longer in existence in the USA parks, but still in operation in Japan.


some of us going our best "Jaws" face


the queue wasn't full, but it was pretty crowded - tho again, moving fairly quickly.


there was a portion of the highly themed queue, where an air-vent was blowing out of control (didn't they know the Typhoon wasn't due until the NEXT day??). . but of course, some of us being children, we had to stop to "get blown by Jaws"




Not our boat skipper, but a cast member who was lining us up to get into the next boat.


every employee at USJ was SO nice, and so much fun. And his English was pretty good too - he was excited to try out in conversation with us.


here's Zach and I posing with him.


and here's our skipper, who would go on to pilot us thru Amity and save us from JAWS, with the use of his trusty (solid wood block) shotgun, and some awesome over-acting.


even with some parts of the animatronics not working correctly (the shark never showed up in the shed, for example), it was still a wonderful ride, and we had such a great time on JAWS.


After JAWS, we made out way around the lagoon for the area that had been the 2nd most (or 1st most for some) attraction (after Harry Potter). .the B&M flyer coaster that USJ has here in the Jurassic Park area - Flying Dinosaur.


that's the track for it over the entrance to this area.


the exit of the drop from the Jurassic Park ride.


um.. that's a big splash.


tho nobody seemed to be getting soaked, so we were game to ride it.


but first, what we had come to this section for.


yes, the train for Flying Dinosaur is really on the track for these pictures.


Despite how many pics I took of it? it was simply moving too fast for me to get the coaster train clearly. . so it's a blur in every picture!


I'd get some clearer pics tomorrow.. but since some of these came out so neat anyways, gonna post a handful of em).


this corkscrew dive right here, was probably my favorite part of the coaster. . but the whole thing is just amazing.


easily jumped into my top 5 coaster list!



some more of Flying Dinosaur's twisting track, overhead in the Jurassic Park area.


love how the moon peeking out behind the clouds makes this looks so eerie.


I know we rode this, tho I don't have any pics tonight - I don't recall them being super strict about no pictures. . but I must have had my phone zipped up in preparation for the ride and never pulled it out in the queue.


It's a lightly themed queue. . lots of cages and dangers signs, but I like that the "Grouper" is at the bottom of the stairs, where they give you the safety spiel in small groups and have you pat your pockets to prove they are empty (as well as give rubber bands to anyone with loose shoes, to ensure they are rubber banded to your feet). It made for a much quicker flow once you get up to the main station.


I honestly cannot recall if we did single rider line, or if waited in the queue (I'm thinking we did single rider line here and all got in trains relatively quickly). .but I just can't recall.


I do recall that we loved it, and as a result it's what we made a bee-line for the next morning as soon as the park opened to get some rides on it before queues built.


and they were super well done. . tho they moved - a lot- so it was hard to get a clear picture, since they were doing a lot of "lunging" and "charging" at guests.


who were all shrieking gleefully, and running away


Also in this area is the Jurassic Park raft ride (that I also was looking forward to).


in this pic, you can again see what I mean about USJ seeming to not care much about Sight Lines.


we're in the Jurassic Park area - in a photo op spot! - and clear view of the bridge, and a ferris wheel that's across the bay, and outside of park boundaries.


it does take you outside the experience a bit once you notice it. . but other than that, this area is really well themed.


by the time we got off Flying Dinosaur, the zombies had all come out in the park.


in the Jurassic Park section? these were "Mummy Zombies"


when they weren't standing around waiting for the zombie to lunge at them. :)



these ladies I kind of recognized. . the nurses from Resident Evil, right?


and I loved the pose they gave me when I asked to take the pic. .


after making our way thru the Mummy zombies, it was time for this:


this queue wasn't too busy, think we only waited maybe 10 minutes before we were loading in a boat?


but there were Minions in the line with us. This is a wonderfully simple costume idea, that is so effective. I was surprised I only saw a few folks dressed like this.


what did I think of the ride?


It reminded me of the old Universe of Energy Dinosaurs, so I enjoyed it. . and tho I was aware that the final drop happens after the T-Rex charges at you? I was NOT expecting the drop to be almost vertical - since it is hidden in the building and you can only observe the end result from outside.


see?? I'm holding on for dear life! LOL


the other TPR folks? yeah, they are hands up excited. I'm terrified.


at least Allison is holding on too.


Looking across the lagoon from Jurassic Park area.


good view of Hollywood Dream coaster, the canopy over the Main street, and some of the hotels at Universal Citywalk.


the spotlights are at the main entrance to the park.


another pic across the lagoon, this time with a better shot of our hotel in the picture - on the right.


before leaving the Jurassic Park area, attempting again to get some pics of Flying Dinosaur. .this time looking straight up into that dive that's my favorite part of the ride.


blurry. .but wheeeeeeeeee




what's this. . . "Cutie" Zombies?


ok..I'm curious


awwww . . . adorable!!!


these ladies weren't roaming tho. . . they were posing for pictures behind a table, and guarded by a policeman zombie.


I had this PERFECT pic of her, and then she started to lunge at me.


but I *love* the effect it made on her face, so sharing this pic.


I think it's a great one.


it's getting later, but the crowds aren't really thinning out all that much.


The clouds are really starting to roll in tho.


I believe that little crowd of folks up ahead on the right, are lined up for the Biohazard: the extREme haunt (a Resident Evil haunt). . or maybe it was Area 51 haunt.


this guy tho. . . .


I mean. . it's ear of corn man. with bloody eyeballs on the corn.


Is he a park employee advertising corn on the cob for sale somewhere? A park guest who dressed up as ear of corn man for HHN?


i may never know. . but he creeped me the hell out.


people patiently sitting, and waiting for the Zombie de Dance party.


I caught the show the next night, and it was a lot of fun.


Circus Zone. .. . . clown zombies?


yep, obese clown zombies. . I got pics of them the next night, but tonight just got the sign.


the main queue still had a lot of the theming - tho the pre-show film seemed to have nothing at all to do with the ride (something about a scientist that hates monsters, so he tries to kill them).


there were also a few weird "areas" the queue went thru that made no sense - and it turned out these are photo-ops where the cast members take pics of you with greenscreen behind to sell the pics (we saw this the next day when we rode. .so have to assume it was late enough in the night that the photo booth had shut down, so the line just funnels thru these areas with no cast members once it gets close to park close).


I think we waited maybe 25 minutes in total for this ride.


Moving platform loading station, and tho it was running in complete darkness, they were loading all 4 seats in each car (I understand that for some of the overlays they do, they only use the forward facing seats and the cars don't spin. . which really impacts capacity).


but for Black Hole, they use all 4 seats.



we were headed towards the our one other wish list ride for the night (since it was getting late enough that we didn't think we had time to do more than 1 ride before park closed):


Space Fantasy - which they were running in "black hole" mode, for Halloween Horror Nights.


That meant that the spinning coaster would be running in the complete dark.


so unfortunately, we didn't get to experience the heavy theming that Space Fantasy is famous for. . but lemme tell you, in *complete* darkness, you really cannot tell where you are facing, or if you are spinning or not.


it's incredibly disorienting - especially when you suddenly go into the strobe light room towards the end of the ride, and you're suddenly blinded.


I loved it, but was glad I hadn't eaten anything since lunch. . . .


by the time we exited Space Fantasy, the park was starting to get ready for closing (so I guess it was ~9:45).


So we headed towards the gates.


all in all, we had gotten a lap of the park, to get our bearings for tomorrow, and we had ridden both of the Must Ride things I had wanted to get on (Flying Dinosaur, Forbidden Journey) as well as a few others (JAWS, Jurassic Park, Space Fantasy), so I was really glad that I had gone tonight. . . because anything I ride tomorrow would just be gravy.


if the park closed early due to the Typhoon, I had managed to hit everything other than Backdrop / Hollywood Dream, so I'd be sure to get those tomorrow.


i had had a great day of travel, food, and some time at USJ.


and tho it's slightly blurry, even managed to get a pic of the Universal Globe.


a little closer.. still not a perfect pic, but got all of "Universal" in it this time.


wow. .the CityWalk looks fantastic at night.


Pretty much everyone leaving the park, funnels thru Citywalk - as it's directly across the bridge from the USJ gates, and it's connected to the train station. So everyone taking the train, goes thru it.


we had munchies, and everyone was pretty much awake, so we headed into Citywalk to check out food options (I was thinking the Takoyaki food court, but someone suggested Gyoza - and Elissa and Robb had sung the praises of 551 Horai, an inexpensive take out place in Citywalk.


so we went there, and tho there was a decent line - as noted, everyone in the park funnels thru Citywalk, and therefore right past this place, that's next to the McDonalds on the main level - we got in the line planning to each buy something then to go back to our hotel and have a shared feast.


We ended up getting Gyoza, Shumai, and Pork Buns, and bringing them back to Zach/Alex's room, where they popped open some Sake (and a beer or two from the vending machine in the hall) and we feasted.


it was so much food, we ended up only eating about 1/2 of it. . with me storing the leftovers in my room's fridge for Typhoon day.


Here's a pic of what we got at 551 Horai (between the 5 of us, we got a LOT of food to share)


from left to right: Gyoza, steamed Pork buns, & Shrimp Shumai.


I think the star was the Shumai that were simply fantastic.


but the steamed pork buns were outstanding! The meat was juicy and tasty with a wonderful zing, and you can taste the strong garlic flavor in every bite.


that the other two were so good, made the gyoza just seem "ok". .tho they were much better than most of the food I've had at restaurants in the USA - what's in this box is what was left from 3 orders. . so yeah, we ate a lot of the Gyoza too.


it ended a wonderful day, with some fantastic company. . . This is why I love going on an adventure with TPR. . the other folks along are so enjoyable to hang out with!


after we pigged out for a while, it was getting close to midnight, and as the park opened the next day at 8:30 am, it was time to turn in, as we had to get up before that if we wanted to eat breakfast and be at the gates at open.


the Hotel put up signs at this point saying the park WOULD be closed on Saturday 10/12 due to the approaching Typhoon (we saw them when we came in with our food from Citywalk).


Elissa had messaged everyone a little earlier that the park was still planning to open on Friday as usual (tho no guarantee the would be staying open the whole day). . so we were planning on being at the gates for entry when they opened in the morning.


I made my way back to the room, and put the leftovers in the fridge, and hopped in the shower, brushed my teeth, and was ready to climb into bed.


when I remembered that I hadn't taken pics of the room yet (which was a larger than the rooms we had been in at the 1st hotel in Shinagawa).


here are the two beds.


here is looking at the windows at the front of the room (that coffee table usually sits in front, but we pushed it to the side of the room to avoid any tripping over it during the night).


that orange sofa? that's another full size bed, that slides out, so this room really could sleep a lot of people if it had to. I like that it's a "hidden" bed that functions as a sofa during the daytime.


from the main room, looking past the humidifier to the room's main door.


the separate toilet area.


and the shower/sink area


the "shower" was one of the wonderful Japanese style "shower rooms". . where there is a tub, but the whole room functions as a shower, so you stand in the middle and use the shower head - unless you wanted to take a bath.


this was an amazing room, that was nicely laid out.


my last thought before crashing tonight? if the Typhoon keeps us trapped inside on Saturday? I could think of worse surroundings to be stuck in, and with worse people!


and with that? was out like a light, and ready for a full day visit (with Express Passes) at Universal Studios Japan. . .

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Great report. I am so sad and craving those 551 buns and gyoza now!!!!!


I still think Flying Dinosaur was some sort of mistake by Universal and B&M! There has not been a B&M that intense in quite a while and to show up randomly at a Japanese park with a culture known for more tame rides!?!?!

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I still think Flying Dinosaur was some sort of mistake by Universal and B&M! There has not been a B&M that intense in quite a while and to show up randomly at a Japanese park with a culture known for more tame rides!?!?!


It was such an unexpected, amazing experience! I really wish parks had the appetite for coasters this intense...

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I love these last two updates! It's hard to pick favorite days on the trip but I really loved USJ and the Citywalk area. The buns, gyoza, shrimp were all fantastic. It was so much fun to get those and have a little room party before or after the park visits. I definitely miss it!


Robb and Elissa and some help from Joey really set us up for success in a constantly changing severe weather situation. That can never be stated enough!


Really enjoying reading and going through all of the fun memories!

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^ ditto ditto what you say about Robb, Elissa, Joey, and I think Andy had some imput too, right? it was so incredible how they stayed on top of everything, and were able to adapt and keep us informed as to what was going on.


^^, ^^^, ^^^^

thanks folks!


I really love typing these up (even tho they take me so dang long. .LOL. even when I TRY to be brief).


I get to relive the trip and enjoy the memories again, when talking about em - so I'm really glad that y'all are enjoying.


and yeah, I'm craving the steamed buns from 551 now again too, Elissa!

Luckily, there is a comparable bun place in South Austin, so next time I drive into work, will go there for lunch!


I found Flying Dinosaur to be fantastic towards the back (tho I never got a back row ride - we went where they told us). . but honestly, the front row ride we got was FANTASTIC. . .so good, we bought the pic from it


the full day at USJ will be up hopefully in the next several days. I don't seem to have *any* pics of the haunts, which is weird, but I do kinda have an idea what order we did them in, so I'll "review" them between the pictures.

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Looks like you guys had a great day. You ate at some of the Citywalk restaurants I wanted to try but didn't get around to. Food looks good anyway! And isn't Flying Dinosaur incredible? You rank it even higher than I do!

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Looks like you guys had a great day. You ate at some of the Citywalk restaurants I wanted to try but didn't get around to. Food looks good anyway! And isn't Flying Dinosaur incredible? You rank it even higher than I do!


keep in mind, my ranking includes the multiple rides I got on the full "official" day - including a fantastic front row ride.


How long were you in Osaka? We were there, for 3 nights (Thurs, Fri, Sat). Breakfast was in the Hotel most days, but because we were there for a few days, and the Citywalk restaurants stay open until just after park close? yeah, that's why got to try a few places.


heck, we even ended up at Hard Rock Cafe on the afternoon of Typhoon day. . . there wasn't much open, but between Hard Rock, McDonalds, and TGI Friday? we ended up in Hard Rock. . which was kinda busy (due to USJ guests that were "stuck" in the hotels in the Citywalk complex, I'd guess).


but we did have a great visit on Thurs night, and an even better one on Friday, as the park stayed open full hours since the Typhoon had slowed down enough that it wouldn't make landfall until Saturday late morning. (spoiler, I guess, for the next update: full day at USJ)

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I'll admit that Flying Dino was almost too intense for me to love, and there really hasn't been any other coaster experience that has made me say that We did ride it 2x within 15-20 minutes first thing in the morning... in the morning! It's already that nuts, but I'm not sure I noticed a difference in morning vs night rides. The positive G's are really extreme at a few points in the ride, but the more I rode it the more I enjoyed it. It was so awesome to try a flying coaster that hauled ass through the entire course since I think that's the best way to experience inversions on flying coasters. The slow rolls tossing your body from side to side just don't do anything for me.


For me one of the best parts about Flying Dino is that you feel like a celebrity on it. Everyone is waving to you from the paths below as you're climbing the lift and flying around.

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Friday, 10/11/19 - full day at Universal Studios Japan:


so I woke up fairly early - well before the alarm.


The park was scheduled to open at 8:30 am, and I believe a group of us had made plans to meet at 7am for breakfast at the hotel buffet.


I think I woke up so early because I was nervous about what the day was going to be like, and how much impact we'd get from the approaching Typhoon.


I nervously opened the curtains and found a dry morning, but really overcast. . with LOTS of ominous clouds overhead.


looking to the right, I knew the Typhoon was still pretty far out and therefore unlikely to affect our day today. . but still those are some pretty solid clouds.


several of us met in the hallway outside the rooms right when planned (while a few others wanted to take a bit more time to get ready and would meet us at the restaurant).


by the Elevators, I snapped a few pics looking out the window overlooking USJ. . lots of clouds in this direction too.


was gonna be an overcast day. . but hopefully a fun one.





we made our way to the Hotel Universal Port breakfast buffet - which was a really nice restaurant that also hosted a dinner buffet.


the choices here were really nice with an awful lot of Asian options, and only a handful of "American" options - that were mainly on the Children's kiosk (HA!!!). I love this, I'm visiting this Country, I really wanted a buffet that mainly was going to be local cuisine, and was very pleased with the options.


most everything was really tasty, and several things were excellent and I ended up getting multiple servings of. (of course, since it's Japan, most servings are tiny, so it's not as "piggish" as it sounds. . . ).


The decor really made us giggle once we noticed it tho. .the outside of the restaurant is themed to "books". . so the entire outside wall is made up of bookshelves filled with books (you can see part of the buffet inside thru the shelves).


take a look at the titles of the books tho.


yep: "Your Text Here"




whomever did the design for the place, simply ordered the books, but didn't put in anything other than the sample text in the order form. so yeah, it made us giggle a bit.


honestly? it's really charming, and it makes me adore the place even more.


once most everyone I was gonna hang around with for the day showed up and we had eaten our fill? Park tickets and Express Passes (and cheat sheet to help figure out which pass was good for when and what order to do them in), we headed out the front door and just down the street to arrive at USJ, just before opening.


Crowds were a little lighter than I had been expecting, and certainly lighter than the day before. . but I'm guessing that absolutely had to do with the approaching storm. I suspect many folks didn't come out because they weren't sure what time the storm was going to hit, and didn't want to get stuck if the trains stopped running.


Per the update we had gotten over breakfast, it was still a huge storm, but was moving so slowly still that it wasn't expected to make landfall until Saturday Morning, so we still had over 24 hours.


the Park Employees were in a great mood, and greeted us with huge smiles.


and in Halloween dress.


this was already looking a little different than the prior night (not just the "way less people", but the Christmas Tree already being set up. . . tho maybe it was there and just not lit up so I hadn't noticed it the day before?)


we knew where we were headed first tho. . so down this street, take a right at the end, and then a left and around the lagoon, and into Jurassic Park area.


yep. . 1st stop was Flying Dinosaur.


a pic for the warning sign nerds


some of the minimal theming I mentioned in the last update.


it looks crazy, but this is actually a really well organized queue, that (at this point) hadn't opened up most of the queue since the park had just opened.


The Cast Members in the khakis and green hats, are each giving a small group the safety spiel and handing out the small bins for loose articles, that each person puts their stuff into - and then those slide into sealed bins on the loading station before each ride). As mentioned last update too, they also hand out rubber bands to secure any loose shoes to one's feet here.


I thought it would be confusing, but despite appearing to cause slow down, I think this actually worked quite well to keep the line moving. As once each small group gets past the Castmembers with the spiel? you just go up those steps and onto the loading platform. . so it's maybe a 5 minute wait past this point.


oh, you can also just make out the train returning to the station in this pic.


my stupid camera decided to focus on the "cage" theming, instead of the coaster train. .but you can still make out the station theming a bit here - including the seats, that have now tilted back into "flying" position.


apologies for the blurry pic.


we ended up with a great ride mid train, and when we got off, we immediately got back in line, which although had already doubled in length - was still rather short. So the group I was with stayed together in the standby line, and got a little bit more walking in, as they had opened up a few more back and forths.


but this 2nd ride? we got placed in the front car!


it was such an incredible ride in the front, and after we exited, I was able to get some good pics of the pterodactyl on the front of the train.


it's pretty large, and pretty intimidating.. she's already moved her hand (since I waited for a clear pic), but the castmember keeps her hands on the "wing" of the creature over the lead car - and based on the paint (and how weathered it is)? - I'd guess that lots of guest have bonked their heads on the wings.


but how wonderful that instead of modifying the design, USJ just resolved the potential issue with training with staff, and expecting people to be careful where they are going.



the pic from the front row ride.


SUCH a great ride.


As Zach has said, you feel like a celebrity, since everyone is waving to you from below the tracks as you pass over.


Alex, Zach and I are having our "wheeeeee" moment. . . Jon? is looking right at the camera (how he knew it was there? no idea)!


what's pretty cool too, is the physical picture from Flying Dinosaur? Comes with a 3D effect when you open up the picture frame.


probably to make it more exciting - since as I noted when we didn't buy pics from Eejanaika at Fuji-Q.. you kinda look like we're in a baby bjorn. . so it's nice to have the "extra" effect to entice buying a picture.


If I recall correctly, Alex purchased this one, and gave me the physical copy of the picture while sharing the digital with everyone. (thanks Alex!)


after two rides on Flying Dinosaur, it was time to move to something else (since we'd get to come back later with express pass anyways as our time was ~7pm)


since we had Express pass 4, Express pass 7, HHN Express Pass 3, AND HHN Express Pass 4, we had a bunch of rides that were available "anytime" to use the pass, and as we were over here, and some of us had ridden Jurassic Park the night before, we took the opportunity to use the Jurassic Park anytime Express to bypass the line (which had already gotten to be at least 30 minutes) and take a day ride.


TPR took over the back two rows, and this time I kept at least one hand up :)


never really figured out if this was something up for HHN, or it's a standard prop at USJ. .but I liked it so snapped a pic.


our 1st timed Express pass ride was Forbidden Journey at 9:20-9:50 am, so we made our way back over to Wizarding World to get a ride on it.


it was just as great the 2nd time I got to rde, and I'd get to ride it a 3rd time later that afternoon, since the multiple Express Passes, gave us another ride at 4:10-4:40


(can you tell I kept the cheat sheet, so I can look to see what the times were when typing this up?).



one great thing is that someone (Zach) mentioned to me that on the next ride, if I sit in an end seat, I can look over to the right and see some of the ride mechanism and how it works (which turned out to be really cool! I would never have done that on an initial ride, but after riding a couple of times, it was super cool to see the ride moving and how it moves in certain areas).


after our ride, and while waiting for bathroom breaks from the group, I snapped some pics of Flight of Hippogriff as it went by.


The line for this was really long, and we didn't stay to ride it, as we had - yep - an express pass for it later this afternoon. so for now, Pics would do.


I think the park should get HUGE kudos for the back car of the coaster.


you know what that is? (besides AWESOME)?


That's a wheelchair accessible seat on the train.


yeah, the coaster is a glorified roller-skater (an opinion that would be cemented when we rode it later). . but why don't more parks - in particular USA parks - do this?


it's awesome.



we didn't hang around Wizarding World long this morning. . too much other stuff to do. Such as Hollywood Dream!


on the way over there, we passed right by Universal Wonderland (the kiddie area with multiple properties: Peanunts/Hello Kitty/Sesame Street).


We didn't go in, but I noticed something I hadn't seen the prior night: a Peanuts themed "Dumbo" type ride?

where you ride in Snoopy?


ok, that's fantastic. . even tho I never did ride it (it seemed to be generating the longest line in this section when we did come back thru later, so didn't bother with it. . besides, I knew I'd be riding *real* Dumbo at the end of the trip.


but it was too neat to not get a pic of.


the main entrance to the area. . also advertising the Minions Kowa-Kawa party, as this area is a designated "Safety Zone" during HHN.


We used an anytime Express Pass for Hollywood Dream - which was just an OK ride, tho it did have a few funny/odd things going for it:


it seemed to be super popular, and the pass allowed us to bypass an easy hour+ line.


I liked that you could choose what song to listen to, and found it hysterical that they wanted to suggest Taylor Swift for Allison to listen to (and I think she did listen to her for the 1st ride). That happened to her on every ride tho. . LOL


I don't recall what song I chose for the 1st ride, but later when we rode it the lady sitting next to me, when she overheard us discussing that we didn't know what the song was? Told us that "Rat-Tat-Tat" was a popular J-Pop song (and I think some of the zombies danced to it later that night, actually). . . but dang if that wasn't a GREAT song for coaster riding in Japan. I absolutely can say that the ride later this night (with a 2nd anytime Express Pass, since we didn't use it for Spider-man) while rocking out to "Rat-Tat-Tat" was an MUCH better ride.


the weirdest thing about Hollywood Dream tho? This was the strictest coaster in terms of loose articles, that I experienced in Japan. There was no physical pat down (never had that happen on this trip), but there were multiple questions about if we had things in pockets, and then after putting your items in cubbies across the station? they wanded with metal detectors before you could sit in your row. Even tho they had 1 "wander" for every 2 rows, it still caused a capacity headache, so that explained why even on a "slowish" day, this ride had such a long queue. Thank goodness for Express Passes!

I don't get it tho. . . at first I thought it was because this coaster goes over a lot of public area. . .but we weren't wanded on Flying Dinosaur, and that one goes over the entire Jurassic Park area. Maybe there was an incident with a falling item on this particular ride at some point, and that's why so strict? but it was odd.


the coaster itself? for the most part, pretty forceless, and didn't do much for me. The most "exciting" part of the ride for me is the upwards helix section near the lagoon. And it LOOKS great (especially the blinking lights covered trains) . . it just doesn't actually *do* much.


I did enjoy it better with the song choice.


and the ride improved immensely when riding as "BackDrop", with the backwards train. maybe since you can't see how non-steep, or high the drop is? but it's fantastic as BackDrop, and just so-so as Hollywood Dream.


my 2cents.


but as we were exiting the ride, we came across one of the Halloween parades, with Hello Kitty & Minion Characters in costumes. .and kiddos lining up to dance along with them.


a bit Gothy Hello Kitty. . hmmm


nice bat wings tho!


well. .those are kind of interesting "floats" behind the character. . and look at all these kids lined up.


wait a second. . that's candy in the top section?


(and Bride of Franken-Minion on the left there cracks me up)


what's about to happen? everyone suddenly got all excited


explosions of confetti and streamers. . and the candy dropped down into the bottom of the floats.


and the kids orderly lined up single file to get candy. NEVER would happen this way in the USA.



we then headed over to the New York Area to ride Spider-Man, planning to use an "anytime Express Pass" since we had 2 of them (one for Spidey or Jaws, and one for Spidey or Hollywood Dream)


but it turned out that Spidey was walk on. . so instead of using the Express Pass, we did standby line (and used the express pass for that 2nd ride on Hollywood Dream I mentioned above).


even "walk on". .it was a lot of walking, as that queue is HUGE. and super well themed too.


here's Doc Ock looming over a model of the ride vehicle.


a bit dark, but looked terrible when I tried lightening it.


here some of us are with our 3D glasses on, and ready to experience Spider-Man.


I was really impressed, and got off it thinking that Six Flags really swiped the Justice League Ride from it. that this one came first, and does the same thing so well? I mean, some of the practical effects on Justice League are better, but I think I preferred the Spider-Man ride even if they really like "squirting" you with stuff.


great ride. . but then again, keep in mind, this was one of the few "screen" rides that USJ has (think Minion Mayhem might be the only other one?). . .not sure how I'd feel about it if in the USA parks, after riding so many similar simulator rides.


but I liked it.


since we had walked on to Spider-Man, we then also had an anytime Express Pass for JAWS, and William hadn't been with us the prior night when we rode.


so we headed over there and skipped the line to get a ride.


here are 8 TPR folks, about to be terrified by JAWS . . on the docks of Amity


LtR: David, William, Allison, Tabitha, me, Alex, Zach, Jon


It was getting to be about time for our first HHN express pass Haunt: Biohazard Leon Route.


so we headed back across the park from Jaws, and stumbled across random Minions hanging out - it appeared to be the tail end of a Kowa-Kawa street party (note the barriers). .they had fun costumes on for Halloween.


Note Mummy Minion in the background.



there was a photo op down this side street with Spider-Man, and tho they wanted you to buy the picture, they were also willing to take one with your camera too.


these ladies were behind me in the queue, and they were thrilled to oblige when I asked for a picture, since I liked their headbands.


we spoke (in broken English, and I made use of some of the phrases in Japanese I had learned from the list we had gotten from Elissa to thank them for posing), and then it was my turn for my pic:


LOVE this pic.




tho it got very strange after this pic was taken, as the ladies from the prior pic? called me back and asked me to pose in their picture with them.


I said 'sure" and got in the picture with them around Spider-Man, and the photographer was getting ready to snap the picture, when one of the guys who was working the "sell booth" for the pictures came running over and shouting something in Japanese. He spoke to the girls (it sounded based on the tone, that he was shaming them), then he turned to me and so "no. Not allowed"


i was very confused and said, they asked me to be in the picture with them. (since I thought that he had thought I just jumped in their picture, or was worried that they wouldn't buy the picture if some stranger was in it) . but he just told me "no". . so I gathered my stuff, confused, the girls told me they were very sorry, and I went to meet up with the rest of the group, that had gone on to get water.


I asked several folks about this - including Tabitha (since she knew some Japanese customs and was with us, but she didn't know) and also asked Elissa about it later. Best assumption is that it was an older guy, and some males in Japan don't think it's appropriate for Males to be in pictures with Females. . especially stranger males. But She didn't think it was Universal Policy . . likely just this cast member, and that I shouldn't worry about it, since I hadn't done anything wrong.


interestingly, we saw the same ladies a little bit later while we were at a vending machine and again they said "sorry" and I told them i was sorry too, it was ok though. . . but I was too scared to ask for a picture with them by the Vending Machines :)


when you leave the warehouse it's staged in, you walk right alongside Jurassic Park & Flying Dinosaur's lift hill. . so able to get a pic like this.


I shouda waited for a train. . but we only had about 40 minutes to get to our next Timed Express Pass Haunt (Cult of Chucky), and I do believe we headed over to Jurassic Park to check out the length of the Flying Dinosaur line.


I can't 100% remember if the single rider line was short enough to ride it, but I think it was not, so we just walked thru the area (knowing we'd be coming back in a few hours anyways for our EP ride).


We stumbled across the live dinosaur parade tho, and stopped to watch that for a moment.


I know these are just people inside walking, but damn if this effect isn't fantastic, and looks amazing.


there's even a baby Triceratops.


see? cuuuuuuute!


there was a big crowd watching, but the Raptor saw me taking pictures and made a bee-line for me


he sniffed around my head, and then laid his head on my shoulder and let me stroke his neck.


I was surprised he came over, and the "handler" kept saying "Blue" "Blue"


I realized this is Blue from the Jurassic World movie. . and THEN realized that I was wearing the Blue tye-die KISS shirt. . so the Dino came to *me* because I was wearing a bright Blue shirt.


how cool is that for guest interaction :)



we finished Cult of Chucky around 2:15, and didn't have any EP rides until 4:10 pm for our Forbidden Journey 2nd ride. . . I think we may have taken our 2nd Hollywood Dream ride during this "down-time', but eventually we realized that we hadn't eaten lunch yet, and some of us were starting to get a bit hungry.


Tabitha suggested Three Broomsticks, since she and David had eaten there the prior evening.


I was cool with that since we needed to go back to Wizarding World for Forbidden Jorney/Hippogriff EPs and everyone else agreed, so we took the long trek back to that part of the park.


Here's a pic of the menu.


the prices were not only super reasonable (especially for a Theme Park), but they took credit card, so could charge it. oh, the food was also really good. They did not half ass it at all, everything was very tasty.


I got the Hallowe'en plate - which I think most of us did - for ~$21 American I think, that included:


a Pumpkin Pasty (it was SO good, and maybe the best thing on the plate, but they dont' sell it separate, so only got this one)

Rotisserie Chicken (decent)

Pork Rib (a bit overcooked..so a little chewy, but still decent)

Corn on the Cob (fantastic . . when something is so basic it's easy to mess it up, but this was great)

Roasted Potatoes & Vegetables (good, tho not a whole lot of em)


I also got a Butterbeer (it was good, tho the Frozen one I had gotten the prior day was better, I think)

and a desert - Butterbeer potted cream (that was only so-so). . but even with a so-so desert, it was still overall really good for a larger Theme Park meal.


tho I preferred the frozen version? you can't get THIS pic without getting the "regular" Butterbeer.



after eating, we still had a bit of time before our Forbidden Journey Express Pass, and tho some wanted to browse the shops in Hogsmeade, I had noticed there was a Hello Kitty ride in the Universal Section.


I thought it was a dark ride, so decided I'd head over that way in the bit of time we still had before our passes, since that area was sorta/kinda next door.


I asked if anyone wanted to come with me, and Allison, Alex and David all said yes, so we headed over that way.


both William and Allison are not fans off haunts (truth be told, neither am I. . at least not "jump scare" American type haunts. . but I was in Japan, so damn if I wasn't gonna do all the HHN offerings I could).


They decided to do it as well.


Biohazard has two routes: Leon & Claire (we had Express pass for Claire later), and tho it did have some "jump out" portions? it was mainly practical props, people in monster suits, actors (in this case a guy dressed up as Leon) fighting said monsters - while you were urged to run into the next room. . and ended up in a large room full of mounted guns, pointing at a wall sized screen - where you proceeded to blast everything coming at you on the screen.


was it "scary" ? nope, not at all.


was it "fun"? yeah, kinda.


I'd give this a B, because i really liked the practical monster effects, and the acting scenes were enjoyable to watch, even if we were observers instead of being actually "in" the action. . which took place on one side of the room, while we walked by on the other.


to Hello Kitty "Cupcake Dream". . which turned out to NOT be a dark ride.


but rather a Tea-cups ride, themed to Cupcakes!




(and look how dark the sky is getting. .it's just after 3:30pm!)


we had made the walk over, so decided to wait in the short line to ride it anyways - even tho we had just eaten, and probably shouldn't be spinning.


we probably shouldn't have all crammed into one cupcake either. . but we did it!


yes. . poor decision making. . LOL


it ended up being a really fun ride, mainly because of the wonderful company in our cupcake!


we took a lap around the area, which was mainly kiddie rides. . tho some looked like fun.


Goth Hello Kitty was out and about.


as was Cookie Monster !!! in his Halloween "costume" . . so of COURSE waited to pose for a pic with him


(I found him to be a bit stinky (armpitty). . but I guess those suits get hot)


another Muppet was out too, but no idea who this one is.


a Carousel themed to Sesame Street?


it looks much better in the pics I took, but in person, it looked crap-tastic. . . I mean, I even said, "OK, I can pass". .it wasn't playing carousel music (or any music that I can recall), and it looked really ghetto.


but i took pics of it, since it's a carousel. .but it didn't really impress me.


I think maybe the bright yellow colors turned me off.


I'm not really the target for this tho. . proof being that it had such a long line and every creature had someone on it.



closeup of the Snoopy-Dumbo as we walked by it.


no one else I was with was interested in riding, and we had to get back to Wizarding World anyways, so I just snapped this pic while walking by.


Charlie Brown was out in his Halloween Costume tho


as was Snoopy!


and Lucy (whom I had gotten yesterday when coming in the front gates). . so I didn't wait in the lines to get any pics with the Peanuts gang.


if I had been alone, I likely would have, but as noted, we had to get back to Wizarding World. So was happy just to snap pics as we walked by.


a shot of the sign at the front of the "land". . . love the Hello Kitty, Muppet, and Snoopy pumpkins along the bottom of the sign, and above the flower work.


Wizarding World is right around the corner on the right beyond that tree. . but how cool that you can look all the way down the "street" and see Flying Dinosaur!


and our trusty skipper today (pic courtesy of Zach).


Can't recall her name, tho she was much more reserved than our skipper the prior night had been.

oh, she still saved us, and I'm really glad we rode it during the daytime, as many more details were visible, and several of the effects that hadn't seemed to be working properly the prior night, were now on - and working.


still no JAWS in the shed tho. . but in the daytime, we could see the shark under the water :)



our Biohazzard Express Pass was from 12:50-1:20, and our EP for "Area 51" (which was sorta next door), was from 1-1:30. . so we went from the Biohazzard haunt right over to Area 51.


this was a new haunt this year at USJ (they were all new to me. .but just noting). . this had a large outdoor section, and tho it likely would have been more effective at night? our pass was for afternoon. . .


it worked out just fine anyways, since it was so overcast :)


This one starts off in the Backdraft stage, before going outside, and then back inside for the finale maze. . . and also used TONS of practical effects, with a storyline that had something to do with aliens (practical rubber creatures) that have been captured, but have escaped and infected the scientists that were studying them and turned them into zombies. (ie: castmembers in lab coats with pink veins painted on their green faces).


Allison & William sat this one out, and that was probably a good idea, as the outdoor portion was a "garden maze" with lots of dead ends, and zombie scientists and guards who chased the guests (the Haunt sent folks thru in groups of about 25). Once you got to the outside section, the groups split up as everyone went different directions. . we got split up without trying to, and I admit that Tabitha and I had a fantastic time, since we ended up with a group of 5-6 Japanese girls who were shrieking and laughing hysterically every-time a zombie popped up to lunge at us as we tried to find our way out of the garden maze and into the "safety" of the building. It really did make it for a much better experience, and we were laughing too - with enjoyment, not at the silly "makeup" on the zombies, which really wasn't' scary.


once back in the building, it turns back into a standard haunt, where you're going thru trashed labs, with creatures in cages, and jumping out from behind shelves and stuff. It would have freaked out those that don't like jump scares.


I'd give this haunt an A-, because the way we experienced it - with folks who were having fun - really added to the fun of it.


by then it was time for Biohazard: Leon Route.


actually, as it's called here: "Biohazard: the extREme". . I'd assume that's because in most of the world, what the USA calls the "Resident Evil" games are called "Biohazard"). . so the red "RE" in the naming is a wink to the Resident Evil name in the States?


the prop work on this haunt was great!

(pic courtesy of Zach, as are the next few)




three of our Express Passes for the HHN stuff were almost back to back. . so we had "Cult of Chucky" at 2pm-2:30pm


for some reason Allison joined us for this one, and I'm proud of her for doing it. . but she shrieked and yanked on us all thru the whole house. . LOL We told her they were watching, and not to react, since that will make them target you more. .and sure enough that's what I think happened.


This was the most typical of what I think a Haunt would be. . . lots of people in Chucky masks, jumping out from overhead, or from behind doors/tables, or even popping out from false walls.


so a lot of jump scares. The sets weren't super inspired - hallways, and Doctor's Offices that were decrepit, and file rooms. .


There were some decent practical gore effects, but overall, I found this to be pretty straighforward.


I would rate this a C- haunt, even tho the HHN guide rates this as scare level 5 (no children allowed) - this and Biohazzard were the only two haunts rated level 5.


it was OK, but didn't do much for me.


thanks to Zach for the picture tho, otherwise wouldn't have had any from the haunt.

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Universal Day continued


it was only ~6:20 when we got out of Sadako, so we still had about 10 minutes until our next Express Pass - "Backdrop" at 6:30 pm-7pm.


So I messaged the group we'd been hanging with and they were already over there at Backdrop, just waiting for the pass to be active, so we headed over to meet them at the entrance.


Since the EP was good for a 1/2 hour, we got there just as a parade was starting: the Festa De Parade


(this is apparently a parade they've been running for multiple years, as I was able to find youtube filmed versions of it going back to 2017).


it was a fun parade that lasted about 7 1/2 minutes, and what was interesting, is that it's got ONE SONG, that's played along the parade. Really, it's played on every float, with all of the live singers, singing along to the song, which seems to have a lot of the same verse over and over.


It's pretty catchy too. . .something like "Su Bella Bella Lina So!" (tho it wouldn't surprise me if it was called "Pure Adrenaline" as that's a lyric in the English sung bridge portions.. . and a good portion of the song is sung in English, by the Caucasian singers on most of the floats)


it was a pretty cool parade, with some beautiful costumes, some interesting floats, and the dancers in the street were all really great. You could tell they've been doing it for a while, they have this down.



here's pics from the Parade




















LOL. and this singer? gave me a big ol wink as he was pointing at me (and singing to me) as it went by.


it was noticed by others I was with too (blush). . .


LOL. .maybe one of the Hogwart's guy got on the employee twitter and told them about the cute American in the blue KISS shirt.


(hey, I can dream!!!).


and once the final Statue of Liberty Float went by (tho the last float I took a pic of was the next to last with Hello Kitty), we turned around and scanned in for our ride on Backdrop.


which was really, really good. . so much better than the forward facing Hollywood Dream option.


and with "Rat-tat-tat" blasting, it was SO much fun.


we had to book it across the park tho, as our next Express Pass had just started, and it was only good from 6:50-7:20.


it was our night ride on:


back to Wizarding World, and with our Express Passes, right into the line, and almost to the "cubbies" room in just a few moments.


before leaving Wizarding World, William asked me if I had done the "wand experience" (or maybe it was Zach who asked). . . I'd not, tho I saw a queue line set up. I thought it was just a queue to get into the store (Ollivander's) to buy a wand - something I wasn't gonna do.


but they said, oh no, it's an attraction, so I should do it. After being told that they would go with me and translate, I lined up.


it turned out no translation was needed, as although the wizard in the store (Ollivander himself?) spoke in Japanese. . he then followed each line in English.


they bring you back thru a "Secret door" into a small room with a wizard, who picks someone out of the crowd (in my case, it was a young boy - tho I'd assume it's typically a young child) and claims that the wands are singing out and he is going to help the young wizard find his wand.


he proceeds to pull random wands out to hand his chosen one, and they try spells with the various wands - all with comical effects (the room darkens and lightning starts, candles erupt in flames, etc). . while the wizard reacts with comical shock.


It's very cute, and quite amusing.


these are flowers that the "wrong" wand makes wilt and die, and the wizard fixed them back to perfect.


as noted, very cute. and of course, eventually they Wizard finds the *perfect* wand that is meant to be with the chosen participant, and we're ushered thru into the wand store - where a cast member immediately approaches the parents of the chosen one and tells them how much it will cost to purchase (and then take home) the wand that has chosen the young wizard.


which is why I assume the person chosen is usually younger, because you KNOW they are gonna beg the parents to purchase the wand. . . it CHOSE him from the store!


it's a great sales pitch, and I'll bet it works more often than not :)


I enjoyed the little show tho, and was glad it was brought to my attention.


as we exited, what also immediately caught my attention? the TriWizard Spirit Rally. . which per the guide


"Cheer on a colorful procession of students form Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, who have come to Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament"


I'm not sure how "BROWN" is "colorful". .but ok. . . and I'm gonna assume the guys were from "Durmstrang". . because. . . .DAMN!!!!!


oh yes, this held my attention, and I'm sure the attention of several of the LGBTQ+ folks that were around.


I mean. . I'm shallow, ok, but my spouse was back in the states.


and LOOK AT THEM !!!


at the end of the show, there is a photo op.


Guess where I was most interested in getting pics.


William was teasing me that I should go up and pose.


and so I did. .


and yes, they knew exactly what we were giggling about (like teen girls.. ohmigawd).. and kudos to them for keeping a straight face



so shallow.


but I'm not ashamed :)


I mean. . .


this is gonna be my desktop eventually, much to the chagrin of my Spouse.


stepping away from the physical appearances? the show actually showed off a lot of skill with twirling, gymnastics, and the "banging of wood" (the girls were great too).


really nice, unexpected show from USJ. .tho if we had looked at the guides, likely could have planned around seeing this instead of just stumbling across it.


I had seen folks yesterday (and earlier today) taking pictures in the queue, with no issues from Cast Members, so I kept me phone this time and snapped some pics post cubbie room.


the moving pictures in the great hall


Dragon Bones overhead


some lovely stained glass


Jennifer Saunders, in a moving picture. . getting drunk while in line. . . LOL


Even with Epress Pass, once you're past the cubbie room, you're in the general line. . but it moves really fast from here, as the ride is continuously moving/loading.


the Sorting Hat ! (just before the loading station, so once I took this pic, phone went into my zippered pockets)



this is the ride where I sat on the edge, as suggested, and was blown away at the technology required for this ride to work. .it's really impressive to watch. And how the heck it doesn't break down all the time, as technical as this is? I don't know.


but I really loved this, and it makes me want to visit the US parks. especially so I can try out Escape from Gringott's. . something the USJ park doesn't have.


they do have Flight of the Hippogriff, and I was pretty unimpressed. it was "meh". . only saved for me, by the fact we didn't have to wait in line for it, as the EP was timed just after Forbidden Journey


we had a lot of time until our next Express Pass - "Backdrop" at 6:30-7pm, so since it was just before 5pm, Jon and I headed across the park to try to use the Terminator anytime pass, since I hadn't ever seen this attraction. It switched over to "Sadako: the Cursed" haunt at 6pm, but since it wasn't 5 yet, was hoping to catch the last show before they switched over.


no luck tho, as we got there after they closed down Terminator to begin the changeover.


luckily tho, they opened up the queue, and started allowing folks to queue for Sadako. . Jon and i talked about it, and decided that hey, we're here, let's get in line.


(besides the HHN Express pass for Sadako we had was at 6:30, and was competing with several other timed passes. . so here was a chance to just line up for it, and not have to worry about that EP). It also offered an opportunity to sit down a little and get off our feet.


so we lined up and were pretty close to the front of the line, we certainly would get into the 1st show - which ended up being, I think, around 5:50. So all in all, we stood in this line for ~45 minutes, but it was a nice break in what had been a breakneck day thus far.


I was a little stuffy in the air, you could definitely tell bad weather was coming, but it wasn't here just yet.


in line was this lady in full unicorn costume, so she posed for a picture for me form a row over.


Someone told me what property this character is from, but heck if I can remember. (I had thought it was Buttercup from Toy Story 3, but that's Disney, and we were in Universal).


maybe Despicable Me?


side view. . it looked cute, but hot.


they slowly moved the line forward as they opened up new sections of the queue, and before we knew it, we were inside the show building.


look how crowded it got!


they tied the Sadako story into the existing Terminator show storyline. . including the woman that comes out on the balcony to talk to the folks in the holding room. (Jon told me how the Terminator story works, and I explained to him the Sadako history after the show so he understood better what the hell we just saw).


the actress came out and interacted with/messed with the crowd for ~10 minutes, and then got interrupted by a phone call. . which freaked her out, and she ran out of the room. It was all in Japanese, but was still easy to follow along even if we didn't know exactly what was being said to the audience members.


and Sadako appeared on the stage above, before the room went black and we entered the theater.


once in the actual theater, it was more of the Executive lady behind the counter set on the stage, and her being terrified of phone calls. . that came here and there during the 10 minute show. Then she passed out and Sadako appeared over her.


and then at the back doors, and then at the side door, and then back on the stage, where the executive recovered and started running thru the audience, begging for help. . with Sadako again popping up all over the room, and occasionally in the center of the audience (which freaked out the crowd).


it ended with the room going pitch black, a scream from the Executive, and the seats dropping a few inches.


it was pretty much exactly what I had expected from a Sadako experience, and tho not "scary". .I really enjoyed it.


B+ for this haunt.


after finishing a ride on Backdrop, it was well past 8pm, so my Express Pass for Blood Legend had expired. .but I figured I could go check it out and ask if maybe they would let me use it regardless since i had multiple things at that time (Sadako, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (which I had passed on riding to focus on the haunts), and blood Legend were all at the same time).


It turned out I didn't even need it, as so many folks had already streamed out of the park, that upon approaching the theater, I was immediately moved into the pre-show holding room.


there was some history projected on the walls - in both Japanese & English, telling about the legend of a house in the woods, where evil lived, that started with a family that was cursed. .or some such thing.


I wasn't sure what the attraction was other than it said in the guide


"get sucked into the alluring and chilling world of vampires in this terrifying theater attraction."


and when I was given 3D glasses, I figured it's a 4D attraction.. which is exactly what it was. A very slow moving (tho maybe 20 minutes total) film about two girls that go home with a guy, from this cursed family, and then try to escape when they realize there is evil there.


not too bloody, which was surprising, for a film that involved vampires, and a set piece with an Iron Maiden. . but they certainly made use of "squirting water" every time a vampire bit someone.


the "twist" at the end could be seen a mile away, but the audience I saw it with (a lot of elderly folks in this showing as well!) screamed in the appropriate places, and seemed to enjoy it.


I'd give it a solid "C".. nothing new or exciting, but it delivered pretty much a middle of the road experience, that was a 3 rating on the Horror scale in the guide (that went from 1-5). .so yeah, a C.



Since I was near the front of the park, I stopped to snap some pics of the Clown-fat zombies from the Circus scare zone I had seen yesterday.


hey, there's Jon in the background. . . I must have passed him and not realized it?



apparently this is an iconic shot, that's typically taken by guests during HHN.


I'd never been to HHN or Universal (or Japan), but I knew I had to take this picture. :)


as noted the crowds were really starting to thin out in some areas of the park. . but the HHN scare actors, were still out an about, so it was great to get some pics without a whole lot of people around.



these two dues were some of the few folks in costume tonight.


it was a total difference from Thursday night, and I'm glad we came out on Thurs, since got to see so many cool costumes.


on Friday tho? other than HHN Park employees? very few folks were dressed up.


If I had to guess, it would be because of the bad weather coming in, and people simply didn't want to dress up if they were going to possibly get soaked. but I dunno. .


it was still nice to see some in costume (onsies, but costumes) and they happily posed for a picture, and gave me jelly candies after I took this picture.




I took this pic after we got off our ride, but it got really dark, really fast, so this is probably only ~7:10pm


I knew from the day before that the night ride was going to be great, and it was. We were hoping for something towards the back, but once again got seated more towards the middle.


I still loved it tho, a fantastic ride and worth the trip to Osaka (and USJ) just for a ride on this amazing coaster.


a giant warthog/evil thing was roaming the streets.


i way lightened up the pics, so I could see the detail in it.


I suspect it's the same two cast members that were in the Triceratops earlier. . . :)


such as this plush set.


there was a bit of a crowd up near the front of the park. . mostly exiting, so I popped into some of the stores to do a quick browse and see if anything caught my eye.


remember my friend who is a huge Hello Kitty Fan? Well, I wasn't gonna buy him something this pricey to drag back with me in the suitcase (or bulky. . I was saving space for the Godzilla and Disney merch I was gonna be picking up still on the trip). .but I made sure to snap some pics of anything Hello Kitty interesting for him.


Heading towards Backdrop to make use of my "any ride" Express Pass



Hollywood Dream climbing the lift hill, with its white lights reflecting off of the "tunnel"



not a whole lot of people over on Hollywood Boulevard. . but the Medusas were out.



cool, huh?


and you can tell when Backdrop flies by, due to the red lights on the train. . .


as opposed to the white lights on the forward facing Hollywood Dream


heading into the Helix


and coming back into the station. . .



it was definitely a kids coaster, but it was themed really well (to a soapbox derby), and had some really interesting elements - like this "crash" thru a billboard, a helix that triggered a spinning crane in the center with Woodsock, and some figures on the sidelines (not animatronic, but with some basic movements).


there was shockingly a small line, but i went ahead and got in line anyways, after seeing some solo adults riding, and after about 10 minutes it was my turn.


I'll give it credit, this small coaster hauls butt. No real "air" but the helix was a lot of fun.



and Peppermint Patty is there at the end to flag you as the winner.


so it was cute, and it was sorta fun, I guess. . . LOL


i'm not a big enough credit whore to be excited about riding it, but I enjoyed the theming.


this interactive section was instruments where the kiddos could put their hands over the heart shaped sensor, and the instrument would play.


yes, yes, I know he's holding tamborines. .but look how excited he is!


All I saw when I looked at this?


Linus being excited about boobies.



(yeah, it had been a long day and I was tired. . I'm also a child :p )


it had gotten kind of quiet, and it was only ~8:45, so the park was still open for over an hour. I knew some of the folks in my group had cited exhaustion/long day, and had already headed back to the hotel to sleep.


but I tend to not do that (once in a park- especially one I likely won't ever be back to - I like to stay). . just ask Bill - during CoasterMania! in 2017, he went back to the room for a break, and as exhausted as I was? I stayed in the park, and think it ended up being an 18 hour day for me.


So I decided I WOULD go back over to the kiddie area, and check out the indoor kiddie coaster, which I had heard Trent talking about, and Luke said it was a decent ride.


here's the Hello Kitty statue in that area again, lit up at night.


and since I was over here again, the Carousel caught my eye.


it looked MUCH better at night. . the colors weren't quite so garish.


and there wasn't a line at all, since it was after 9pm at this point, and this *was* the kiddie section after all.


so what the hell, despite not planning on riding it, and even saying I wasn't gonna ride it?


yep, I decided to ride it.


and it had Berts on it! I hadn't noticed that really during the daytime.


you couldn't ride Bert tho. . he and Ernie were only guards on the sleds/carriages. So that was a little disappointing.


but then I saw I could ride a chicken!


who am I to deny my spouse a picture of bert riding a c**k.


(told you I was a child!) :p


it really is quite amazing what a difference day vs night makes on the colors here.


what was so gaudy and ugly during the day? looks quite nice at night.


oh, the yellow painted base is still horrible. . but the rest of the Carousel - including the animals, really does look much better at night.


Leaving the Universal Wonderland section, I decided that since the park was still open for almost an hour, I'd go ahead and check out Minion Park, and maybe even see how the line was for Minion Mayhem.


the park was pretty much deserted in places now, and so it was very interesting to get clear looks at the precautions they had taken for the Typhoon hitting the next day.


Walking along the New York waterfront, all the hanging signs (neon and otherwise) had been secured with ropes tied off with heavy sandbags.



Minion Park still had a few groups of folks around, but it was basically empty with most of the people I saw heading out rather than into the area.


I was headed towards Minion Mayhem, when I noticed this sign just out front of it. . it appeared to be another ride, tho I hadn't been aware there was one (course it would help if I had looked at the park guide.. . ).


What really caught my eye was "wait time: 5 min". . so I peeked thru the fences at the ride, and then hopped in line.


it's basically Tow Mater's ride from Disney California Adventure, but really well themed - with at one point the cars moving under the Minion's "freeze ray" that blasts the cars/riders.


it is not a thrill ride, but it was a pleasant experience (and a new one, since I hadn't been to California since Carsland opened, so I've never been on Tow Maters). The ride has some nice centrifugal forces on the swing arounds, tho not as extreme as a scrambler.


oh, and I should note, that the "freeze ray" didn't hit me at all, as the wind had kicked up enough that when it sprayed, it blew off immediately, so the effect, unfortunately, was lost.


still, it was an enjoyable detour, and as you can see in this pic, the Despicable Me ride is literally right behind it.


Minion Mayhem was also posting a 5 minute wait time, so I was glad that I hadn't wasted an express pass on it (and instead had tried to do Biohazard. .and ended up with Backdrop). It was a walk on, but holy crap, that's a LOT of walking.


I had thought the Spider-Man queue was long, but this was easily twice that length, and included two pre-show rooms.. where it was just me and two other guys and we had to wait for all the preshow stuff to cycle thru.


when we finally got to the 3rd pre-show room, just before you board.. something errored out and instead of the door opening to the vehicle, the entry door popped open, so they closed it and the pre-show spiel ran again. This time the door to the vehicle room opened, and we finally got on the ride.


I'd never been on the original ride, so it was all new to me, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. . tho it was odd when the vehicle raised up into the giant theater screen room, and you could see other vehicles to your right and left (all with only 1 or two folks in em) also riding at the same time. but it was really immersive, and the motion of the car was synced perfectly with the motion on the screen. . really good effect.


Tho it was a bit bumpy.. my flat butt didn't appreciate the hard plastic seating in the vehicle.. especially during some of the "drops".


but I did enjoy it, and glad I got to experience it at least once.


at the end of the day tho? this "5 minute wait" ride took me almost 30 minutes to get thru. as a WALK ON. Wow.


it was right about this time, when Jon pinged me to ask if I was still in the park. He was too, and was wondering, as he knows I tend to stay till the end of the night as he does.


I confirmed I was still here, and we made plans to meet up at Hollywood Dream/Backdrop to try and get a final ride on it.


walking down the mostly deserted park paths, was suitably spooky, and the HHN scare-actors tried their best to be creepy to whomever was walking by.


So I stopped on the way a few times to snap some pics.


tho some of them were just hanging out chatting with each other (who can blame them??).. until they noticed me taking a picture.


then they got all spooky on me :)


Great Vampyre King Scare-actor


and in this same "zone". . were Electric Frankenstein creatures. . some on stilts.




I saw her earlier, but this late, was able to get up close and personal with her and get some fantastic pics.


USJ does some wonderful costuming for HHN.





This Bat Creature really should have been hanging out with the Vampyre King. . . but he was at the other end of the scare Zone, near Hollywood Boulevard.


I met up with Jon, and it looked like the line for Hollywood Dream was still too long (or maybe they had cut it off by that point and weren't letting new folks in line).


Not 100% sure, but I *think* we may have headed across to Space Fantasy: Black Hole, to see if we could get a final ride on it.


Jon - did we end the night with a ride on Space Fantasy? I honestly can't recall. . I think we tried to get in line but they had closed it off? or were we able to get on.


I know we rode SOMETHING together before heading out of the park.


regardless, it was close to 10, and it was time to head out.. there was a Typhoon coming in the morning, and we didn't really know what to expect from the day.


We headed out the gates, and across to Citywalk. There wasn't much open other than McDonald's but we both had a bit of munchies, since we hadn't eaten since Three Broomsticks earlier that day.


we headed up to the Takoyaki food court, and it MUST have been just before 10pm when we left Universal, because the majority of the food court had shut down, tho there were still 2 or 3 stalls selling Takoyaki.


The gentleman that let us in to the area (he had pulled down all the metal gates to the area, except for one, that he was keeping open to let folks who were eating leave), told us that the Takoyaki food court was still open, but we'd have to take it to go.


which was fine. I mean, I'm sure he wanted to get home too, and we had actually planned on buying food to go anyways. . . . I have absolutely no idea what variety I got, but I do know we both got a couple of 4 packs of Takoyaki - different varieties, and then headed back across the street to our hotel, where we said our goodnights/see ya in the mornings, and then retired to our rooms. . . where I flipped on the weather (to see a huge blob headed towards Japan), and stuffed myself full of Takoyaki before passing out after a long, long day.


pic courtesy of Zach


we still had a little bit of time until our next HHN Express pass - 7:30-8pm, which unfortunately was going to force us to choose between "Biohazard Claire Route" or "Blood Legend" (the one in the Sesame Street Theater). . . most all in the group wanted to do Biohazard, but since we still had some time, we headed down the street to Space Fantasy: Black Hole - which was pulling a long line, but we had the anytime express pass, so used it and was on the ride fairly quickly. This time we remembered to get our 100 yen coin back from the cubby, as Space Fantasy has ones you have to pay for out front of the ride, but they give you the coin back.


We were at Space Fantasy early enough that the photographers were out in the areas of the queue, and even the Express Pass queue had a photo op set up. We posed against the green screen, but the picture didn't come out good, so did not end up buying it.


tho got a picture of the sign that tells you where to go to get the pictures. . LOL


it was about 7:45, so we headed towards Biohazard, and noticed they had it roped off. I checked with the staff, and they said they were down for "an incident". ... no idea what it was, tho we (among ourselves) wondered if someone took a swing at one of the actors? (not in Japan), or maybe tripped while trying to run away (more likely, but who knows). . .they weren't sure if they were going to open back up, since the park was only open for ~2 hours or so, and crowds had really started to drain, as folks were leaving - I'd assume worried about the approaching Typhoon.


the cast member told me that since we had an Express Pass, and the attraction was down, we could take it to any attraction and use it. I asked to clarify "any"? and they said yes.


most of the group immediately headed towards Flying Dinosaur, but I didn't' want to ride it again, as much as I had loved it. I wanted another ride on Backdrop. So I shared via Messenger with everyone that Biohazard had gone down, but use the EP for anything, and then I headed over to Backdrop.


funnily enough, I didn't have any issue showing my Express Pass for Biohazard, and getting onto Backdrop, but Trent & Luke said they had a bit of an issue. . so I think that they were over there when I sent out the message, and so used it right away before word had gone out in the park to employees that Biohazard had gone down. . . but once they had gotten that sorted and used the EP for Backdrop, when I showed up shortly after to do the same thing? she scanned me right thru.


so it was great, I ended up with 2 rides each on Hollywood Dream and Backdrop, and 3 rides (4 if you counted the prior night) on Flying Dinosaur.


just to note, Biohazard did come back up, and a couple of folks on the trip did it.. Zach said it was the same "maze" that Leon had, but instead of a Leon actor fighting, it was a female actor (playing Claire), fighting a different foam creature in the acting scenes.

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I really think in a weird way the Typhoon helped us! It made the crowds so much more manageable than a normal Horror Nights Day and kept all of the rain and bad weather on one day which was NOT our visit! Great report as always!

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I really think in a weird way the Typhoon helped us! It made the crowds so much more manageable than a normal Horror Nights Day and kept all of the rain and bad weather on one day which was NOT our visit! Great report as always!




and agreed, the Typhoon really did help us in that the crowd was so much lighter (lighter than it had been on the Evening visit some of us did the night before).


and that there was ZERO weather impact on the day we were there - and they stayed open full hours? Just an amazing day (one of many on this trip).

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...it had gotten kind of quiet, and it was only ~8:45, so the park was still open for over an hour. I knew some of the folks in my group had cited exhaustion/long day, and had already headed back to the hotel to sleep.


but I tend to not do that (once in a park- especially one I likely won't ever be back to - I like to stay). . just ask Bill - during CoasterMania! in 2017, he went back to the room for a break, and as exhausted as I was? I stayed in the park, and think it ended up being an 18 hour day for me.


But I did come back and join you, right? Your group left for the rest of the night. If they'd hit the hotel in the afternoon, like I did at Breakers for a couple of hours' rest, they could have easily come back and re-join you guys for the rest of the day! I realize it was only an hour+ left in the park for you. Still. Mid-day rests, if the hotel is close by, sure revives one for the rest of the day at any park, i.e. Tokyo Disney IMhO. And I usually come back to the hotel tired, but not extremely exhausted, as I have in other trips w/o a mid-day rest available. Not always possible I know. And I realize there were FastPasses they used there too, thanks to Elissa and Robb's great planning and ticket buying. But besides this...


Great ongoing TR, Bert! There's so much new stuff there at USJ (Potterverse! DinoCoaster! Minions! Hello Kitty Chucky!) since I was last there, in 2011. Having done a few other coasters backwards (the worst being Temple of Peril in Disney Paris, when they ran it that way for a while), I don't think I would have been keen on Dream going backwards. I just like to go forwards on the things, heh. And isn't the "tune selection" on it, a trip? I remember most of us just hitting the Japanese J-Pop tunes and it was great, every time we rode.


Looking forward to more!


...And we had only several seconds to scroll and choose what you wanted to hear during your ride!

Maybe it was a longer time period now, for you guys.


A couple of pix from the net, showing that "Tune Selection" system on Hollywood Dream. Back in 2011.

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Fantastic report!


That's really nice they have the haunts running in daylight hours. So many US parks don't open the haunts until the evening, which can make it hard to do everything.


That's a bummer you couldn't get the back on Flying Dinosaur for that first drop. It took me a few tries in the single rider line to get it. But that ride is fantastic in any seat.

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^^ Hey Bill - Hollywood Dream set up was similar, and you had to choose quickly. *but* instead of genres, it was actual songs. So there were 5 songs to choose from, most of them "American" (as I noted, they kept asking Allison if she wanted Taylor Swift).



As to mid-day rest, that wouldn't have been an option at USJ, even tho the hotel was right there. They don't allow in/out privleges (no hand-stamp, no readmission). So if you left? you were done for the day unless you wanted to buy another ticket!

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Fantastic report!


That's really nice they have the haunts running in daylight hours. So many US parks don't open the haunts until the evening, which can make it hard to do everything.


That's a bummer you couldn't get the back on Flying Dinosaur for that first drop. It took me a few tries in the single rider line to get it. But that ride is fantastic in any seat.



yeah, agreed! at least half the haunts were open during the day time (the exceptions seemed to be the two that shared the space with other attractions: Sadako (used Terminator's building), and Blood Legend (that used Sesame Street 4D). . I suspect if Backdraft had been up and running - it was down for Refurb during our visit - then Area 51 also wouldn't have opened until 6pm, since the haunt uses the Backdraft queue areas as part of haunt.


there were also two "in Japanese Only" so not recommended for non-Japanese speakers, specific immersive Haunts. Those didn't seem to open until the evening, and were both upcharge things (one was called "Hotel Albert II: Requiem" and the other seemed to be a dinner/seance experience.


We had been advised it was best not to do them, as non-Japanese speakers could possibly ruin the enjoyment for others, since those were such intimate events - and sure enough, these two are not even LISTED on the English Park Guide - I only can see what they are, since I snagged a Japanese Horror Nights guide as well (because it listed the "Zombie zones", but also lists these two additional attractions.



if you're curious, the Zombie Zones were:


Monster (by Hollywood Dream)

Mummy (by Jurassic Park)

Circus (by Space Fantasy)

Cutie (in San Francisco waterfront area)

Prison (in New York waterfront area)

Pirate (also in NY waterfront area, but closer to the main entrance walkway)

Tribal (near Amity/JAWS area)



and I can't really complain about not getting back row on Flying Dinosaur.. I DID get 4 rides during my visit (s), and as you note, every seat is a great one. Tho I loved front row!

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...As to mid-day rest, that wouldn't have been an option at USJ, even tho the hotel was right there. They don't allow in/out privleges (no hand-stamp, no readmission). So if you left? you were done for the day unless you wanted to buy another ticket!


Ah yes, I forgot about that little rule. Well, it's been 8+ years. I do tend to forget stuff here and there, now.

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