Gather round all you aspiring witches and wizards who desire to be enrolled in Hogwarts, the premier school for wizardry! For this is a tale of how to get yourselves into Hogwarts despite being a Muggle.
If you are a fan of Harry Potter and have been wondering if you could ever experience life in JK Rowling’s books, then get yourself over to Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan. Universal Studios has created a microcosm of Harry Potter’s world which stays faithful to the movies.
Since Muggles don’t have access to teleportation spells, the only way to get there is via the old fashioned way; by planes and trains. If you are wondering how to get to Osaka from Tokyo, you can browse to my previous blog post on getting a JR Pass and saving quite a bit of money on train travel in Japan.
The village of Hogsmeade is the centre of this fantasy world of Harry Potter. The entire area is very well partitioned from the rest of Universal Studios and you don’t see or hear any distractions from rides from another movie franchise. Upping the realism factor are the many Harry Potter fans who can be seen dressed in robes of the various houses (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw), and walking around with their newly bought wands or broomsticks.
The village of Hogsmeade features several well known shops from the movies like the the Three Broomsticks (restaurant) where you can get Butterbeer, Honeydukes (candy shop) and Ollivanders (souvenir shop).
And if you really want to be a wizard, special wands are for sale where you can learn to cast spells at certain spots in Hogsmeade. Say the magic words and wave your wand to cast your spell, although it may take a few tries to get it correct.
Of course the main attraction is the castle of Hogwarts. It’s a scaled replica of the movie castle although it still does look rather life sized.
There is a 4D ride called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which is really popular among visitors, and be prepared to queue for a long time if it’s crowded. The other ride is a roller coaster which is rather mundane. The best way to shorten your waiting time is to purchase the Express Pass which are available only for same day sale and in limited quantities.
When it gets dark, the park may be closing and people are leaving, but do stay till after sunset as the village of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts looks dramatically different from daytime. Check the time closing times of the park. At different times of the year, the closing times are early or extended.
So would you want to visit this special place and feel like a wizard or a witch for a day?
Getting There for Muggles
Back to reality.
Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is located in Osaka city, and you can fly direct from Singapore to Kansai International Airport, or take a Shinkansen from Tokyo. If you are coming from Kyoto, hourly rapid trains connect the 2 cities.
The train station to get off for USJ is Universal City Station, and you can use your JR Pass to take the train.
Once you are at USJ, entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is through the main ticket which gives you access to the whole park.