Thanks for: 1) your up close and personal memories of the earthquake. VERY chilling. Kinda like virtual reality withOUT the glasses. (When NYC had its "huge" quake in the 80's, I recall that my parakeet screamed like a jungle beast, AND most apt dwellers - me included - were said to have feared that their "boiler rooms had exploded!" But it was 6AM, so most went back to sleep.) Anyhow, thanks for bringing that TPR trip moment to life!
Thanks for: 2) your captions on your pix. So droll.... Special note to:
For years, Universal Japan was the gem of the Universal Studios parks, at least to me--possibly because Universal itself didn’t actually run the place. I’ve enjoyed past visits there; for example, in 2013, they gave TPR an interesting, honest presentation about the park’s development, along with a walking tour of the Adventures of Spider-man ride, which was in some ways cooler than actually riding it.
Well, Universal now has control over the park (but not City Walk) and is bringing more of an “Orlando” management style to the place. This is not entirely a good thing.
For example, Robb had to endure the tortures of the damned just to pick up our group’s tickets and Express Passes. He can tell the story much better than I can, but here’s a summary:
1. Two hours in a Guest Services line, which Robb had to wait in three times because the staff couldn’t find our stuff and kept sending him back to the end.
2. Stuff obtained--in a big envelope labeled “Theme Park Review (go figure)--only to discover that they’d given us the wrong Express Passes, thus requiring Robb to endure the Queue of Lost Souls yet again.
3. The Osaka earthquake closed Flying Dinosaurs and Hollywood Dream, the park’s two big coasters, although the fact that they were closed was left off the “Closed Attractions” board. Robb negotiated a refund on the passes, which allowed us to buy another admission for a second park day (both rides did eventually open later that week). Robb, thanks again!
I know I’m leaving out a lot a details here, but the whole Universal visit is a bit of a blur.
So, what about Universal Japan itself, administrative issues aside? Well, the park is still a nice set of “Universal’s Greatest Hits" (with its very own version of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey), and staff working the shops and attractions are very nice and helpful. Flying Dinosaur is a very good B&M flying coaster--on par with SeaWorld Orlando’s Manta--and Hollywood Dream is still fun.
Jaws was down for a big rehab (we knew this going in). Is this a good sign that Bruce the Shark will be scaring guests for years to come? I hope so, as Jaws is a unique attraction, and it looks like they’re doing some pretty extensive work on it. But, as Robb pointed out, Orlando’s version went down for rehab, reopened, then was shut down for removal to make room for Diagon Alley mere months later. Who knows what’s in store for Japanese Jaws? It’s proximity to Japan Harry Potterland does raise my eyebrows a bit.
The VR craze has hit Universal Japan, too. Those who ride The Coaster Formally Known as Space Fantasy (which was a lot of fun) now have to don helmets to experience Final Fantasy. I believe the whole VR coaster craze must die, and Final Fantasy did nothing to change my opinion. But I give the park credit for having a fairly efficient method of handling it. You sit in the train, an attendant tethers your helmet to it, then you just slip the helmet on. One odd thing: When you return, an attendant removes your helmet, gives it back to you, then instructs you to give it to another attendant near the exit.
They also have a fairly elaborate nighttime parade with an oddly mundane name: Universal Spectacle Night Parade. Why not go all out and use the name “Super Happy Fun Time Sparkly Dancing Wizards, Robots, Dinosaurs, and Minions Parade”? All kidding aside, it’s a good parade, but be careful of where you watch it. We were at the beginning, and we missed out on much of the cool building projections they were doing down the street.
Oh, and one other thing.
Minions. Get ready for lots of Minions.
The view from our room. I could’ve sworn that Godzilla, or maybe Gamera, destroyed this facility in a movie. But one port industrial site looks much like another.
This is always good advice.
The Universal Port Hotel was very nice, and not actually run by Universal.
I’m pretty sure this place is run by Universal. Call it . . . a hunch.
Let’s see, Disney already uses “Early Entry” and “Extra Magic Hours.” I guess “Early Park In” will do.
Sigh. This makes me sad.
But life goes on, even without the beguiling goofiness of Space Fantasy. But why put VR on an indoor coaster that was already a unique experience?
This makes me a bit happier. Always a great ride, whether in English or Japanese.
J. Jonah Jameson: A pioneer in the use of fake news to smear a public figure.
“You got photos of me doing WHAT with WHOM? Fake news, all of it . . . well, it was a party, I was a bit drunk, and I coulda swore Loki was the Scarlet Witch, OK?”
Universal Japan always has cool merchandise. I particularly like the Jaws shirt.
Then again, there is this.
Deadpool probably owns a dozen pairs of these.
Fill this spot up with some people wearing cheap plastic masks and carrying baseball bats, and you’d think it was Halloween Horror Night in Orlando.
Hard to tell where the park ends and the city begins.
Hmm--some activity over at Flying Dinosaur.
I hope the water-filled dummies are having fun and don't die horrible, water-splattering deaths.
This is Japan, so people put mats on the ground and wait patiently for this show to begin.
OK, it’s noon. Dumbledork, or whatever his name is, says we can enter Hogsmeade now. (Yes, the rather complicated Express Passes give you a time to enter Hogemeade, then later to ride Forbidden Journey.)
OK, you think a wizard could conjure up a tow truck.
We’ve made it all the way back to Orlando. It’s magic, I tell you!
Or are we in Hollywood?
All kidding aside, Universal has done a good job with Hogwarts. However, I wish they'd improved upon the chaos that is their loose-article storage area. That's a mess in Orlando, too.
Hah! Notice how I managed to avoid saying "fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo" in my last caption . . . damn it!
Dan can’t tell you how happy he is to see Ralph’s. Really, he can’t.
“Ooo, you work for Ralph’s? Come here, you sexy thang!”
Lucy will not be denied.
Bet you didn’t know that Universal Japan had a “Hitchcock’s The Birds” ride, did you? More to come!
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