We were up at 6am this morning, we quickly checked out, left our luggage at reception and hauled ass over to Universal! Our last trip included a day at Disneysea and we so thoroughly enjoyed our experience at a Japanese theme park it was one we wished to repeat. Adam isn’t a fan of rollercoasters but is a big movie fan so Universal seemed pretty perfect.
From our hotel to the park was about an hour on the tube, the Osaka metro is a bit convoluted so journeys can sometimes take longer than expected. This got us to the gates an hour before opening time. Anyone who has been to a Japanese theme park will testify that crowds are certainly to be expected and today looked to be no different. Despite our early start there were already large crowds waiting at the gate.
We had prebooked our tickets online, using the website Klook. I like to prebook as much as possible before the trip because those are costs I can spread out in the lead-up to the holiday. The tickets cost us £52 each.
I had also bought us some express passes for the Cool Japan rides. Cool Japan is an annual treat for the theme park when they unveil a series of rides based on iconic anime, video games and manga. I wanted to ensure that we would be able to try these rides, as they’re so unique to this particular park, and after reading that queues could expect to reach 4 to 5 hours I decided the £35 express pass would be well worth it.
It turned out to be the best decision of all. As the gates opened Japanese people poured through them, sprinting inwards into the park, however as we followed them we found they all headed for the Cool Japan rides, leaving the rest of the park basically empty.
The first ride we headed for was the Spiderman one, a motion based 3D ride. We walked straight on and in fact were the only ones on the entire ride. Adam really enjoyed it, it was full of twists and turns and was really fun.
We then headed for the Jaws ride, a point of nostalgia for me having visited US Disney parks many times growing up. Once again we walked straight on. The ride takes place aboard a ‘tour boat’ which is taking you for a ride around Amityville before a very determined white shark attacks you. Although we had no clue what our tour guide was saying he was very enthusiastic!
As Adam is a big dinosaur fan we made our next time the Jurassic park: the ride and once again we walked straight on. The ride is a log flume ride where you float through a lagoon where the dinosaurs have escaped and we certainly got wet in the finale!
By the time we walked off the 3rd ride we’d only been in the park 25 minutes. Never in my life have I experienced anything like it. The only thing we queued for all day was ‘Backdraft’, a special effects show on pyrotechnics. The show was Japanese heavy and for about 2/3 of it we were stood there with no clue what was going on, the last third though was pretty impressive and worth the 20 minute wait to get on.
As Adam is a wimp when it comes to rollercoasters we didn’t attempt to get on the Hollywood dream rollercoasters. Similarly we didn’t go to the Wizarding world of Harry Potter as Adam has no interest in it and I’ve seen my fair share of Harry Potter stuff in England.
We also watched the terminator 3D film, which lasted about 30 minutes. Although there is also the use of live actors, who of course speak entirely in Japanese, the actual film itself was filmed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong and remains in English.
We got timed entry to all the Cool Japan rides which worked out fantastically.
Our first ride of the day was attack on Titan, experienced as a 4D movie. I’d never seen any of the animé but that didn’t prevent me from getting fully immersed in the experience. Outside the ride sat a 50 foot model of an armoured titan statue so I went in thinking I knew what to expect, I was wrong! We enjoyed the ride so much we’ve since bought the animé and plan to watch it soon!
We partook in the Monster Hunter ride, acting as part of an airship crew responsible for transporting a 100 foot monster. The experience was projected onto a 141 foot screen and it was certainly an experience to see something on that kind of scale.
Next came the best ride I’ve ever been on in my entire life (and I’ve experienced a lot!), The Evangelion ride. It combined virtual reality with a motion simulator and the outcome was so thrilling it will stay with me forever!
Outside the ride I nabbed an Evangelion popcorn bucket, filled to the brim with caramel popcorn. It cost me 3200 yen (approx £23) and now serves me as a pretty unique handbag.
Our final ride of cool Japan was Godzilla, which was another 4D movie. You’re a fighter pilot battling the infamous monster and it was a very absorbing experience.
There was a lot to see at the park aside from rides. We walked around the Hello Kitty Wonderland and took in the bright colours. I tried very unsuccessfully to get Adam into a hello kitty headband.
As far as food went there was plenty on offer. We ate our lunch at Mel’s diner, the 50s style place right in the middle of the park. You can’t miss it with its selection of vintage American cars outside. Their set meals were 1100 yen and the place was super busy.
Aside from the caramel popcorn snacks in the day included a pulled pork bun and some churros. There is lots of food at the park that you can’t find elsewhere and well worth trying.
Having completed the park on record time we went back to our hotel, picked up our luggage and caught our train to Hiroshima. The 90 minute journey got us there for 8.30pm.
Our hotel was the ‘Urbain Hiroshima central’. The hotel was well placed, at just a 15 minute walk away from the central station. It was typically compact but had good facilities and all you needed. We paid £50 per night and I thought it was excellent value.
Steps walked: 25,371