The Ultimate Guide to Harry Potter Japan
The Ultimate Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Japan
When I first found out about Universal Studios opening Harry Potter World Osaka, I felt two things. First, I felt grateful for still living in Japan at the time. And second, I felt the sudden urge to drop everything and run off to Osaka to go explore what seemed like the coolest place on Earth.
Over the years, I’ve become quite a Harry Potter fan. One of the best things about living in Japan is that a lot of adults here are totally OK with carrying their childish side into their grown-up lives. Escaping into a world of fantasy is at times the best reality. So, how good is Harry Potter World Japan at creating this alternate reality?
Overall, it wasn’t a perfect experience, but we still had a blast and I’m glad we were able to go. Below are some pictures from Harry Potter Japan and my own review of our experience in January.
Park Fees & Entrance Passes
Are you traveling at all on the bullet train? You’ll want to get a JR Pass. The Shinkansen is super expensive without it. Get your JR Pass today and have it FedExed to you within days. Don’t wait to purchase your pass. Purchase it here.
A Review of Harry Potter Japan
What I Loved About Harry Potter World Japan
The entire design of the Harry Potter World Osaka was simply awesome.
Hogsmeade Village is fantastic.
Hogwarts Castle looks amazing. It’s really beautiful though we couldn’t help but wonder what the rest of the castle is being used for?? It’s so big but we only saw a tiny bit of it. But you can see Dumbledore’s Office and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom! We definitely enjoyed the walking tour A LOT more than the ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. (SEE my review of this ride below).
The details inside Hogwarts Castle are impressive and the holograms of Harry, Ron, and Hermione inside the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom look very real.
What I Didn’t Love About Harry Potter World Osaka
The prices are extortionist. If I had to make just one complaint about this place, I’d complain about the prices. 1800 yen for a tiny box of Harry Potter Jelly Beans?? And of course, there is merchandise everywhere. Wands, robes, candy, keychains, notebooks, shirts, etc. There is a ton of cool stuff, but it’s very marked up in my opinion.
Of course, they’re able to charge that amount and get away with it so more power to them. I guess that’s capitalism. But they even charge you for a bag upgrade if you want handles on your bag which is super convenient and necessary when walking around a theme park. This kinda killed the mood for me after a while…I had to put this cynicism out of my mind to enjoy the park.
The Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey ride made me very sick. I threw up afterward, though it was a miracle I didn’t hurl on the ride. It was miserable, but I am prone to motion sickness. I rode other rides around the park as well that cautioned against such ailments and felt totally fine. Well, unfortunately, the same can’t be said for this ride!!
If you are even slightly susceptible to motion sickness or if you are just overly sensitive to noise etc., do yourself a favor and DON’T ride this ride. It took me a few hours to feel right again. Essentially, the ride felt like being shook around in a box for like five minutes. It’s a 4K imaging ride which means much of what you experience is through a large screen as you’re flying through the air on a broomstick, but your cart is moving quite turbulently.
It was hard for me to appreciate the details of this ride because it was too overwhelming to all of my senses. Also, not all Express Passes work with this ride (see below to know what I’m talking about). But, honestly, the best part of this ride was waiting in line because you meander through Hogwarts Castle and can admire all the details inside.
It’s insanely overcrowded. We purchased a set of Express Passes to skip the lines, so they gave us a set time to visit Harry Potter World later in the afternoon. If you don’t buy an Express Pass, you’ll have to wait in line to filter into Hogsmeade.
This wasn’t a problem though as we simply spent time in the rest of the park until then. But even still, the stores are very overcrowded, but that’s to be expected. We went on a Sunday and we hear it’s always this busy. See more about Express Passes under Tips below.
Lastly, there was NO Dobby creature anywhere. Dobby is my favorite character in Harry Potter and I ADORE him, but I didn’t spot him anywhere.
The best way to get to Harry Potter World Osaka is to simply take the Shinkansen to Osaka station. There are plenty of hotels around the area and taxis are a lot cheaper in Osaka than in Tokyo.
Where to Stay
There are lots of hotel options in Osaka. If you didn’t read my review already, here’s my experience at The St. Regis Osaka. It ranks as one of my top stays of all time and I always enjoy staying at Japanese hotels. You’re rarely disappointed with the service, but The St. Regis was truly a 5-star experience. The St. Regis is about a 20-minute cab ride to Universal Studios Osaka.
Of course, you can stay near Universal Studios at either of their official hotels: the Hotel Kintetsu Universal City, Hotel Keihan Universal City, Hotel Keihan Universal Tower, or the Hotel Universal Port. But here you can take a look at the 19 Partner Hotels with Universal Studios.
If you plan on doing a lot of shopping for merchandise inside the park, perhaps you should look into staying at one of the Universal properties because you’ll be able to send your stuff from the store straight to the hotel.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, then go for a ryokan!
Parks Fees, Tips, and Advice
Personally, we only needed one day at Harry Potter World Osaka. Originally we weren’t quite sure if we wanted to return again for another day, but one day was more than enough. The park really isn’t that big and you can experience everything in just a day. But we don’t have kids!
There are plenty of fun shops inside Harry Potter World and inside Universal Studios to buy robes, wands, shirts, hats, everything! Head over to Ollivander’s and pick out a wand. But try to get there early enough to avoid the crowds.
The candy shops are pretty much all Japanese style sweets in the park, but the Honeydukes candy shop offers a lot of hard candies and of course, the ever-popular Chocolate Frogs.
Purchase an Express Pass to skip ahead of the lines. This is highly recommended because there will always be a big crowd. We felt the easiest way to purchase the pass is to simply buy it at the counter window when you first arrive at Universal Studios, BUT you risk it being sold out – especially in high season.
Fortunately for us, they weren’t sold out but we did go on a Sunday in January. But we bought the Express 5 pass option which was great, allowing us to bypass the lines on 5 of the main rides. You can try purchasing these passes the day before at official Universal hotels or online if you can read Japanese.
Lawson convenience stores are also supposed to sell them as well, although we didn’t try this method. But the Express Passes saved A LOT of time. Totally worth the extra cost. Click Here for current Harry Potter Japan ticket prices. We paid around a total of $100 USD equivalent for a 1-day ticket and Express 5 pass, but prices fluctuate depending on the year.
hi! i’m having doubts about riding the Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey Ride but would i still be able to tour the castle without falling in line for the ride?
Hello! I’m loving all your posts 🙂
I was wondering, do you think the express pass is worth it if I’m not a fan of rollercoasters? My main interest is to see the stores and the castle, not really into the attractions….
Good afternoon, thanks for writing the article
Do you know what is the timing of the castle tour? Im trying to find it online, but with great difficulty D:
Thank u in advance
Hi, sorry I don’t know that good luck!
how much are the robes?
Hi, I posted a pricelist here:
Hi! Me and my friend have been planning to go to the wizarding world of harry potter in Japan. How much is the ticket? I’ve watched a video and they said you only need “Timed Tickets” to get inside and it’s for free.
I’m planning to get the whole Ravenclaw uniform and a wand…
How much is it?
Is Hogwarts totally like the Hogwarts from the movie?
How much is the chocolate frog and the every flavored jelly beans?
Sorry for so many questions… I really enjoyed your blog!
I can’t really tell you the prices of items except things are really expensive. I think the frog and beans were like $20 each. Hogwarts is obviously not like the movie because there are tons of tourists. The castle’s exterior is really cool though, but you can’t see too much on the inside. The details are nice though. It’s as if I’d expect at Universal Studios.
Hello! Nice blog! 🙂 iknow it’s really late but i am still looking forward for a reply. Do you remember the price of the butterbeer?
Sorry, I don’t! Probably around 8 to 10 USD equivalent
Hello!! Loved your post! I have a quick question, you can buy the Express Pass or the DAY Studio Pass or you need both to skip the long lines?
I’m not familiar with the day studio pass, but I know with the Express Pass you can skip the line for only rides that honor it, and up to the number allotted on your pass (3, 5, 7).
How Much is the Wand?
Not sure exactly, but likely around $50 – $60 USD or 6000 yen
Dobby is in the kitchens!
Thanks for the tip!!
Hi! i really love you review about the park 🙂 I hope you can still remember but can I ask how much is the robes? I know that this is really late but I am really looking forward about your reply 🙂 thank you very much and have a nice day…
Thank you! Honestly, I think it was about $100 – $130 but I’m not 100% sure. Hope this helps!
i love how you blogged about harry potter’s world! im from the philippines and im having a vacation in japan this august all by myself (its my first time to travel alone and visit universal studios so im a bit nervous and excited as well). can you give me more tips on how to “survive” the day in HP’s world. how about the food? have you tasted the famous butterbeer? how much does it cost to buy some souvenirs like the chocolate frog? wands and candies? and what are the difference between the three express passes? pls pls pls 🙂
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. I think a solo vacation to Japan is always a good bet. 🙂
As far as HP world, it’s expensive, not going to lie. There are a lot of different restaurant in the Universal Studios Park though and a few in HP world. It’s normal theme-park food. I tried the butterbeer, although my husband drank most of it. It’s worth trying!
Souvenirs are not cheap in this park, but as for the frog, I can’t recall the price but honestly it’s probably close to 1200 yen at least. I recall a small box of Harry Potter jelly beans costing close to 1800 yen. Just bring more than enough cash if you plan to buy souvenirs, although they take credit card too.
The different express passes when we went (you can see the picture in my blog) are 7 rides, 5 rides, and 3 rides meaning you can use your express privilege for 7, 5, or 3 rides. You can see the prices in the corresponding photo in my blog post. However, we bought them on a week day and they weren’t sold out. Depending on what day you’re going, you may want to purchase them ahead of time which in Japan I think can be done at a Lawson. Ask your hotel. Also, August will be hot so dress cool!!
Thanks so much for your lovely comment on my blog! Omg this is basically my dream xx
Great review of Harry Potter’s world! I love Harry Potter, and am dying to go to one. It’s a shame everything was so expensive, because I know I’d want to buy everything! 🙂
Thanks! Yea it’s costly but not too super expensive, just overpriced in my opinion. Hope you can go!