Sunday, October 2, 2016

2016 Universal Studios Japan Halloween

On September 19 I had no plans so my friend suggested we go to Universal Studios Japan, as he'd never been either, despite living in Osaka for a decade ^^;

There is a USJ app you can download (just search "USJ" in your application store for your mobile phone) that has handy time slots, schedules, and waiting times.
Outfit rundown:
Vest: Black Peace Now
JSK: Putumayo (from Closet Child)
Bag: Ozz(?) (from Pure Sound)
 Given that it was a last-minute decision, I did zero research on the place and had no idea what to expect.  It is very easy to get to, however, as there is a train station for USJ only. There is actually hotel space there if you'd like to just live there, but I'm sure it's quite expensive.

Also, USJ has Halloween specials!!  I'm loving Halloween time in Japan!!!  Many people dress up in costume at USJ. There is a Claire's and some other shops near the entrance where you can buy prosthetic parts and makeup to complete your look before entering, or use the face-painting and SFX face paint services.  There were many group costumes, making it easy for them to find their companions, I suppose!

As it was rainy on this day, it wasn't so crowded and it wasn't hot. The rain was on and off, so a bit bothersome, but overall very nice.
Drinking blood
 I'm not sure where they even store these Halloween edition figures the rest of the year, as there are many.

I was most excited to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!  You do need to exchange for another ticket to enter, but you do not need to actually pay a separate entrance fee. I think it is to help manage the number of visitors in the Wizarding World at any given time.

Note: this post is going to be massively picture-heavy!

If you can recognize this just from the photo, you are probably a nerd.

All aboard!

They had lots of white actors in the Wizarding World to really make it seem like Great Britain!  It was very cool.
The charming conductor
 Right near the entrance is the combination Zonko's and Honeyduke's shop.  Many of the shops in the Wizarding World are actually linked together, making it a bit confusing.  The Zonko's portion is absolutely miniscule, but the Honeyduke's side has loads of sweets from the books and movies!
The most famous chocolate frogs!
 The chocolate frogs were surprisingly massive!  I don't know how anybody would be able to eat one. Do Brits really eat as much chocolate as they do in the books?

There was also a small patisserie in Honeyduke's where you could get sweet treats to go
Adorable cauldron cakes
 The setting inside is very bright! I wanted to be everywhere at once! The variety of sweets is actually not that large, so there are many repeat displays, but the overall feel is exciting.
These ones are display only; not for sale

Non-edible souvenirs

Chocolate Wand

More chocolate
 The display windows of the shops were very intricate as well.  It's difficult to capture due to the reflection on the panes of glass, however.

Directly outside Honkeyduke's was a truck/building that looked like a massive keg. It was selling butterbeer!! Non-alcoholic, of course!  You can get three varieties: just butterbeer in a plastic cup for about 600JPY, the souvenir cup for 1,100, or a silver edition for even more. I got the 1,100JPY one so I can have a souvenir.

 Obviously, it is rather expensive. The cup is just the plastic tankard with a "BUTTERBEER" sticker on it.  The drink itself was sickeningly sweet, though the foam on top was like frothy vanilla ice cream, as on a root beer float. That was my favorite part of the drink!  It took a bit of work to get through the tankard. It's really quite a large volume, plus the sugary taste made it difficult to drink quickly. Though I did also hear that sweets in the UK are sweeter than compared to the USA, which is usually sweeter compared to what I eat here.  So perhaps this is an authentic UK taste ^u^  If there are any British or UK readers, let me know how you feel about sweets from different countries!!!  I'm curious!
 I've tried Europe Cadbury's chocolates (made in Europe, compared to the ones sold in the USA which are made in the USA) and found those rather sickly as well.  Delicious, but definitely sickly!

Directly across is Dervish ad Banges, the Owl Post, and the robes shop, which are all connected on the inside, which confused me greatly at first!

Inside is a Monster Book of Monsters which really moves around and snaps at you!

I'm not sure why somebody is mailing a skull...
 There are plenty of trinkets and souvenirs to buy inside.

There were several shops that are just false storefronts, such as Madam Puddifoot's.  It would have been great if it was an actual afternoon tea place!  She's perpetually out of the shop though, so you'll have to just ogle at the window displays.

The tea actually flows in this!
 Next, we went to Ollivander's!  There are periodic shows.  Inside, there is a hidden doorway behind a bookshelf that the staff will help you through. I'm not entirely sure if there was supposed to be some type of show there as well, because a member of the audience we were with seemed to already know where the hidden doorway was and just headed straight for it so the staff opened it to let us in.

Inside, Mr. Ollivander will select a volunteer to be matched with a wand (in our case, a small girl dressed as a bunny) and give them a few to try. He has them try spells like unlocking cabinets, summoning a plant (it just wilts and dies), and it's rather funny as the wands are mismatched so he has to undo the spell effects.  There are lighting and music effects as well, so it's really cool!
The actor was really enthusiastic!

Then we exit into the actual wand shop where you can buy replica character wands or original wands made of different woods. There are informational scrolls to let you know characteristics of each wood to help you choose a unique wand if you'd like

Of course, there are also rides you can go on!
 You can line up for the castle walk-through or the movie-ride. We first went in the castle walk-through, which is exactly what it sounds like; you get to see all the details of the castle interiors

How is your House doing with points?
 The walk-through is self-guided so you can stay and take photos as much as you'd like. The lighting is quite poor, however!

Sadly, it doesn't move

The portraits on the walls really do move and talk to each other. They all speak Japanese, though.

At the end of the walk-through is the souvenir shop.

New friend!
 Many shop staff kept saying Teddy is kawaii ^u^v and allowed me to put her on decorations to take photos!  It was very nice.

 I'm not sure what this ride was, probably just a roller coaster? But we did not go on it.

Afterward, we got in the line for the Harry Potter ride. The wait times for all the rides are displayed on signs, and are usually 100 or more minutes long! You can also track waiting times in the app.  We played Pokemon GO while waiting.

The line weaves into the castle itself, so it's not boring to wait.

 The ride itself was a combination roller coaster and movie.  It was really awesome! The 3D effects (you wear 3D goggles) and real puppets/scenery combine for a very amazing experience.  There is even real fire used, so you can feel the heat!

On our way out, we passed by some children using wands they'd bought at Ollivander's to charm some cauldrons
 There are various other displays around the village that you can charm as well, if you've got a wand.

Afterward, we headed over to the Jurassic Park section!!  I love dinosaurs!

Some seriously expensive eats
Small dinosaur
 Inside there is a themed restaurant
 With themed meals!

Throughout the park there were Hello Kitty charms dressed as characters from the various movie themes

And more Halloween edition foods

 We bought a donut cake ice cream thing. I think it is a funnel cake?  I've only had funnel cake once in my life, at Mall of America. My older sister was really into funnel cake but we'd never been allowed to have it until one year we were in high school I believe, and my mom let us buy one to share :3  It's basically a really thin donut squiggle dusted in powder sugar!
 The Jurassic Park ride is a water ride, but you don't get very soaked so don't bother with the 400JPY poncho vending machines!  It was a bit scary, as it is set up to look like a guided tour gone wrong, but a lot of fun!

There is another ride we didn't get to go on. It was a roller coaster, but instead of being seated like most roller coasters, you are strapped in and hanging like a pterodactyl so you are looking down at the ground!!  I think if I were to return I'd like to try that ride as it's unique.

Then we wandered around to look at various shops and restaurants.
There were some unique eats, like this The Ring themed food...
Another Halloween special!
 There's also a little factory dedicated to Minions!  I love Minions!

So many Halloween goods!

Next, it was approaching 6PM, and we happened across something unexpected.
Broken car in a zombie zone
 It looked like there would be a show of some sort. Then there was a crowd rushing to some corner of the park, so we just followed them.  We just saw this bus:

And some SWAT team
They all stayed in character all night
As it turns out, this is something that happens every night at 6 during Halloween season.  There is a zombie outbreak (if you have small children, leave before 6) and this is where it starts.  The SWAT team leader shouted at us and said there was a zombie outbreak and select clean audience members could be take to safety in the bus.

People volunteered to be saved and they filled the bus with people.  Then, very unexpectedly, an entire horde of zombies with weapons and very loud chainsaws burst out from behind us!!  It actually scared me (the loud noises, mostly) a lot at first.  There were a LOT of zombies!  Most seemed to run out into the main section of the park.

Then some invaded the bus and they had to evacuate the people from the bus. The SWAT leader told us all to get down as the zombies filled up the bus, and then they fired loud shots and some zombie splatter flew out of the bus O_O  I guess they shot the zombies??

Anyway, this was to be the pattern for the rest of the evening. The zombies would wander among us, chasing pedestrians and such.  At "zombie zones" they'd sometimes do a bit of a performance like eating a victim, or the SWAT team would capture some zombies, loud shots would fire out, and zombie parts would fly.  It's all very spontaneous (though I'm sure the actors have prearranged everything) so it keeps you on your toes the entirety of the evening.

Also, because there are many regular attendants dressed up as zombies, it gets difficult to tell who is an actor sometimes, so it causes a jump-scare when one suddenly fires up a chainsaw and gives chase O_O;;

Break from the horror to share some pretty vintage setups

Yes, more drugs please

This is another "Zombie Zone"
 Some of the programming changes as well, so the Back to the Future exhibit was changed into The Ring, which I'm definitely not down with seeing!!  I read the manga and that freaked me out a lot, so I've never seen any of the movies.

We went to see Spider-man instead!

In the Spider-man shop I saw that you can buy these necklaces in order for the zombies to target you specifically!  Really, the zombies will jump at most any passerby so I'm not sure if they chase these "Prey for Zombies" extra or something.

The Spider-man ride was similar to the Harry Potter one, where you follow Spider-man around as he fights several comic villains in a moving car.  There is a bit of water and fire involved in this ride as well, but you won't get soaked!

After Spider-man we went on the Jaws ride. Jaws is an oldie, but a goodie.  The ride is directed like the Jurassic Park ride, where you are meant to go on a regular guided tour, except this one has an actual actor leading the tour instead of an automatic voice-over.  Our tour guide was super enthusiastic and tried shooting the sharks that were attacking.  It made everything really fun!  It is also entirely in Japanese, so the beginning where she is introducing the tour and telling a story about the place is lost to me.  The rest of the ride is quite easy to understand though.

The Jaws ride has an impressive "accident" where the tour guide fires at a shark and accidentally hits some propane, causing one to fall into the water and light up!  Photos and videos are discouraged on the ride as you are on water the entire time.

We swung by the Jaws souvenir shop as well.
Please help
 Throughout the evening, about every half hour or so, the zombie actors will gather in various groups and dance to Micheal Jackson's thriller.  I filmed one performance. They are so enthusiastic, though this is actually the fourth or fifth performance of the night or so, and I imagine they must be getting tired?
Right at the end of the performance they will grab their weapons and chase the audience though, so be aware!!

The final "ride" we went on was called "Chucky's Horror Factory 3" based on the horror films "Child's Play"  I've never seen any of them, but my friend explained it is a toy called Chucky who has a human soul and so kills humans. I've seen many Chucky dolls on sale growing up, so at least I know what he looks like :3

The horror factory is essentially a haunted house filled with jump scares.  It's actually thoroughly terrifying while inside!  The actors are supposed to be factory workers I think??  I sort of rushed through as I was really spooked, but at one point I got frozen in place as there was one murderer on the left with a crazy woman strapped in a chair, and as we went around them, the murderer on the right who'd been messing with a body tore the head off and headed towards us O_O  I was at the front of the group we'd gone in with and I just kept backing up into everybody until somebody else went first, haha!

The other jump scares mostly involve a large Chucky doll, though I don't really know if it's alluding to the movies in any way.  One slightly claustrophobic section of the horror factory involved going through a winding hallway that had a netted ceiling with straps or streamers hanging off.  Every few steps the ceiling was lower and lower until we were crouching and shuffling along.  Nothing really happens, but it really makes you feel scared that you cannot move freely just in case something comes out at you!!  The ending was confusing as well.  There is a factory employee lying in the corner and at this point I was super on edge so I was just backing up from him again when he came to life and herded us all into a corner so he could open a door to lead us out. He goes in and promptly gets chainsaw murdered O___O;;; There was blood flying behind the glass and everything!  Then a door to the left suddenly opens and another factory employees ushers us out into the actual end of the factory.

Once outside, everything becomes a relief again (apart from the zombies still wandering among us, I guess), which is the type of horror I like.  It's just scary when you are in it, but it leaves no lingering fears afterward to keep you awake at night!

Sorry there are no photos allowed in the horror factory, so this is just a wall of text.  If you read it all, congratulations.

The trip was very fun, and I plan to visit Japan again sometime!

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