Welcome aboard the Hogwarts Express! Located in Osaka prefecture, this new attraction opened its doors in July of 2014. Thousands of Harry Potter fans have flocked to USJ since its opening, and RocketNews24 is here to provide you with some tips and tricks to make your visit as smooth as possible. Hold onto your wands, and join us as we enter the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

1. Express Pass (buy them before you go to the park!)


Like all theme parks in Japan, USJ is busy! There are certainly days were the crowds tend to stay away, like when a typhoon comes, so knowing how to avoid the days that are absolutely packed at least guarantees time to enjoy all the rides in the park. Getting into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a whole other thing in itself. Besides the ticket you need to get into USJ, you will also need a ticket to escape through the forest into Hogsmeade. You could be one of those oblivious muggles and get your timed entry ticket at the park, or you could be a muggle-in-the-know and get an Express Pass.

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Not only does the Express Pass allow you to get into the Wizarding World, but it also lets you skip through the line and experience the two rides in 20 minutes instead of 140+ minutes. Of course, this Firebolt-like speed through comes with an extra price tag. But after breezing through the line, you’ll be glad you spent the extra cash. There are two versions to choose from: Express Pass 5 or Express Pass 7. Both get you into the area, but only the Express Pass 7 allows you to wingardium leviosa yourself to the front of both “Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey” and “Flight of the Hippogriff.” So which pass to get? Unless there is a ride you want to go on that is only included in the EP7, stick with the 5 because you should…

2. Skip this ride: Flight of the Hippogriff


As hard as it is to part with Buckbeak, we need to let this ride spread its magical wings and fly away. The original ride, Flying Unicorn, was a kiddie coaster that was shuttered for many years before Harry Potter came and was then rebranded, giving it a magical transfiguration. But if you are an adult, you aren’t going to get much of a thrill from here. The ride is short, uneventful and does nothing to add to the magic and wonder of the world of Harry Potter. So what to do with that 20 minutes of free time? Obviously…

3. Grab a Butterbeer…in the Hog’s Head!


In Hogsmeade, besides all the amazing familiar sights that you will spend 30 minutes taking pictures of, there are giant red carts in the middle of the streets that say “Butterbeer”, and then there is a horde of people standing around it. So seeing no other option, and because the Three Broomsticks is also looking mighty full, you stand in line. WRONG! You do what Harry and Co. do and go to Hog’s Head, because there is basically no line there.



It’s comical how the dusty ol’ bar also has no one in it, but who cares because it’s Butterbeer time, and it is an amazing drink. Don’t limit yourself to the normal one as the frozen Butterbeer gives it a run for its money. They also serve real beer and even a cider for those who enjoy stronger drinks. Now that you’ve got yourself liquored up, make sure you don’t make a horrible mistake!

4. Check your Express Pass carefully

On your Express Pass, amid all the Japanese text, you might miss some numbers listed beside a few of the rides. These suspicious looking numbers are the times you are supposed to use your pass for the Harry Potter rides! Make sure you don’t forget about these! On the off chance you didn’t show up for your appointed time, it’s probably OK. You can just speak English and smash your way through. Not that RocketNews24 condones that sort of thing.

So you checked the time for your ride, and showed up at the right time, now it’s time for your adventure…

5. A few pointers for the Forbidden Journey


You should feel lucky that you’ve gone to USJ to visit Harry Potter, because the Forbidden Journey in Orlando isn’t included in the express pass ticket! But with your “Golden ticket” (whoops, wrong book) you’ll be able to apparate yourself to the front of the line. No doubt, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a heck of a ride and so we don’t want to spoil everything there is to it, but here are a couple tips that will make your forbidden journey an unforgettable one! If you wear glasses, or are riding with someone who wears glasses, get them to sit in the far left of enchanted bench. Trust us, it will be fantastic, or another word that begins with “f” (it’s “foggy”, what “f” word were you thinking of?). The ride also offers a photo opportunity, but there is no warning as to where it is. Although we can’t tell you exactly when it is during the ride, we can give you a heads up. When you enter the spider lair, get your goofiest grin on! But since you skipped the line and rushed through the castle, you missed half of the experience! Don’t worry, you can always…

6. Walk inside Hogwarts Castle!




With an Express Pass, you fly through the lines and skip all the decorations they put up to keep you entertained as you wait. But when you use it for the Forbidden Journey, you cut through a lot of the wonder of the castle itself which is half of the attraction! But fear not, there is a special tour set aside to enjoy a leisurely stroll through Hogwarts. There is a handy board that will tell you approximately how long the walk will take you, but be sure to add about 10 minutes or so since people will be stopping often to raise their cameras. There is a plethora of familiar sights for all the Potter fans including Dumledore’s Office and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Also, don’t be confused by the merging and diverging lines, you don’t get to jump onto the ride from here, but you will come awfully close to the front! When you have finished abusing your Express Pass, it’s time for one thing…shopping!

7. Buy your Gryffindor goods early



Not surprisingly, everyone’s favorite house is Gryffindor. All the merchandise sporting their crest is prone to fly off the shelves at a moment’s notice! Expect Gryffindor robes, scarves, ties and sweaters to sell out before the day is done. So if you are debating whether or not to get a Gryffindor school sweater to complete your ensemble, you better decide early in the day! If you belong to Hufflepuff, don’t worry, none of your goods ever seem to sell out, they are like the Dumbledore Chocolate Frog cards, but they’ve got way more than six of them.

Why should you wait until after going on the rides before you do your shopping? That’s because Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey forces you to put your belongings in a locker, which the park provides for you free of charge, but those lockers are pretty small, and if you’ve done a ton of shopping, you are going to be using up more than one locker. But what if you can’t find what you are looking for?

8. Try, Try, Try another shop!

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While there are some goods that you can only find in certain shops, wands, for example, there are plenty of popular items that you can find in a few different stores. If one shop doesn’t seem to have what you are looking for, don’t give up hope yet, give Dervish and Banges or Gladrags Wizardwear a try. They might have the Gryffindor scarf you’ve been desperately searching for. While looking around you may happen to see a mysterious line…

9. Ollivanders Wand Experience


Universal Studios Japan has a ton of things to enjoy, but there is also plenty to see and do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. With so many choices, it’s pretty easy to miss some things. Take the wand show at Ollivanders for example. When walking around Hogsmeade, you will notice a line-up  with a number of minutes listed above the front of the line. There appears to be no signage telling you what the line is for. And given that this is Japan, people often stand in lines because…lines.


Fear not! There is a reason for this line, and it is the “wand experience” at Ollivanders. In groups of about 25, lucky/patient guests will watch a luckier guest go through the process of finding a wand, and not to spoil it or anything, but in the end, the wand chooses the wizard!

You’ve finally got your house robes, your scarf and your wand, it’s finally time to say goodbye to Hogsmeade and get back to your muggle life, right? Well…

10. See it during the day, come back at night!


Of course you will be running to get into Hogsmeade as soon as your ticket lets you, but don’t forget to go back at night. Hogwarts Castle is breathtaking and Hogsmeade is also quite impressive, as the town’s architecture lends itself very well to nighttime illumination. It really feels like you jumped into the pages of the book. The atmosphere is helped along by the fact that there are far less people at night. Which brings us to one of the major advantages of coming back at night.


One of the longest lines in all of Hogsmeade isn’t for Ollivanders or for The Three Broomsticks, it’s for Honeydukes, where you can get your sweet-loving hands on some Chocolate Frogs and other treats.

Throughout the day, the line for Honeydukes will snake out the shop and through the front gate of Hogsmeade. Don’t resign yourself to standing in line all day, it’s probably best to wait until later on if you want to buy some sweets. However, even attempting to enter the shop two hours before closing, still guarantees a line-up. With only 20 minutes to closing did the line seem to disappear but that’s still plenty of time to grab a bunch of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

(While there have been some reports of certain sweets selling out before the day is over, this writer entered the shop with about an hour left before the park closed, and there was still plenty of candy stock.)


Ten tips for ten hours spent at Universal Studios Japan. We hope that with these tips, your visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be as successful as the books themselves!

Photos © RocketNews24