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Monday, May 16, 2016

finding some magic in Osaka

We just got back from a four day weekend in Japan. I'm not gonna lie: while I was certainly looking forward to seeing a bit of Japan, I was mostly interested in nerding out in Hogsmeade! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Osaka's Universal Studios sure didn't disappoint. We spent about four hours total in this magical place, a few hours around dusk on Thursday and then a few hours midday on Friday. Thursday was by far the best because there were fewer people around (and a really lovely sunset behind Hogwarts). 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Osaka is a little different than the one in Orlando, Florida. This one is a smaller version and only has Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, but no Diagon Alley. While I would have loved the opportunity to see and explore more, I was still more than satisfied with what Osaka offered-- especially because Osaka is a 2 hour flight from Taiwan in comparison to flying halfway across the world to reach Florida. 

On display walking into the Harry Potter portion of the park is Arthur's beloved car that Ron and Harry crashed. Then, right after the car is the entrance to Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts express. In Osaka, there is no train ride like there is in Orlando, but the picture opportunities more than made up for it. Further into the park is a myriad of shops like Zonkos, Ollivanders and Honeydukes as well as restaurants like the Hogs Head and the Three Broomsticks. 

A word of warning: there are so many things to buy! It's crazy. And, if you are a fanatic like me, you are going to want it all. Sadly, everything comes at a pretty hefty price. Sean suggested that we do a sweep of everything Thursday and then make purchases on Friday. That was sage advice. In the end, I settled on a wand, a chocolate frog, a sucker, a beer stein, butter beer and a photo. And that was me showing a lot of restraint! Still, we sure spent a pretty penny. I blame Sean; he kept saying how often do you turn 30?!

Did I forget to mention we went to Japan for the sole purpose of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to celebrate my upcoming 30th birthday?  Well, that's why we went to Japan. Yes, that is how much I love, love, love Harry Potter. 

Other features of the park include Hogwarts and Hagrid's hut. Only a small portion of the castle is open for a walking tour, and there is no entrance to Hagrid's hut. There are also two rides-- the Flight of the Hippogriff, which is a really cute & family friendly roller coaster, and the 4K3D Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey ride. Sadly, the second ride made me totally motion sick, but then again so did all of the 4K3D rides we went on (like The Incredible Spiderman and Back to the Future). Even so, it was really cool to experience the sensation of flying on a broomstick! And yes, I am aware of how dorky admitting that sounds.   

Nothing was dorkier than my experience at Ollivanders though! Most people choose to just browse the store; others, however, choose to have the total experience. What does that mean? "Ollivander" invites a bunch of people into his special wand shop, chooses one person from the group and then reenacts the scene from the first movie in which Harry gets his wand. Guess who Ollivander choose? The biggest sucker in the room, which was me! Together, we made magic happen! It was awesome. I think I should be embarrassed about the fact that 30 people saw this happen, but I'm not at all. Go big or go home, right? 

I am warning you now that this post has 50+ photos. Seriously. How could I glean them any further?? How?? I couldn't. 

All in all, it was way more than what I was hoping for, and I was hoping for a lot.

Thank you Universal Studios! 

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