Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A journey to the familiar...and dated...

Over the holiday weekend, I ventured to Universal Studios Japan (USJ) with other Nara JETs and one random English teacher. It was an escape into the familiar.

We took a special train from Osaka Station to get to USJ. Upon arrival, the first thing we saw was a trainer doing tricks with a monkey. The monkey was wearing people clothes…it was cute…and a little sad. Here’s a pic:

Once inside the actual park, everything felt eerily familiar. It was like I was back in Florida. It didn’t feel like Japan. USJ is modeled somewhat after Hollywood, CA so the streets had English names. There were speed limit sign that used MPH. The food was still Japanese, but the setting had changed.

The first ride we went on was the “Hollywood Dream.” It’s just a typical roller coaster. It just goes up and down a lot, no upside downs. Coming from Busch Garden, I guess I am a little bit of a theme park snob. It was fun, but I was not impressed.

After saying “trick or treat” to come USJ employee and getting some candy for it, we went to the Jurassic Park ride. Like many of the rides at this park, it is a complete copy of the one back in Florida. There were come cool parts (like when a box with a raptor almost collapsed on our boat, or when the T-Rex makes an appearance). We got wet after the drop at the end of the ride (think Splash mountain), which I disliked.

We did the Jaws ride next. Again, same thing as Universal in Orlando. Cool parts: When we were in the boat house and the giant shark pops up. The best part of this ride was watching the children FREAK THE EFF OUT. I don’t blame them, but it was hilarious to me. Did I mention all the narration is in Japanese? It is, but I could tell what was going on.

We ate lunch at the Jurassic Park themed restaurant. I had the Raptor Galbi. It's basically some teriyaki beef, served with rice, some tortilla chips, and a baked potato. It wasn't really filling, but it was okay because I wanted room for popcorn and other treats.

I did not enjoy the "Backdraft" simulation because everything was done in Japanese (which I didn't understand), the wait was long, and the pay off (although cool) wasn't worth it. The only thing that attraction convinced me of, was to watch the movie "Backdraft."

Unlike Universal Orlando, USJ still has the "Back to the Future" ride. Still good, but incredibly dated.

We concluded the night by eating caramel popcorn and sipping melon flavored slurpies as they (not me) enjoyed the parade. Parades are lame. There, I said it. USJ's light parade was interesting because the 3 themes they used were all Disney properties. For example, the themes were "Alice in Wonderland," "Arabian Nights (Aladin)", and "Cinderella." Someone should tell Japan, "Don't fuck with the Mouse."

I bought a big poster from the Shounen Jump (they make my favorite comics) store, and then we all went off in different directions for home.

Interesting Note: The wait times for attractions are listed as incredibly long. Think 70-120 mins. It NEVER took that long. We waited, at most, 25 mins for a ride. I think wait times are engineered this way, so everyone leaves surprised and happy. It's a sort of artificial happiness.

As always, here's a mildly amusing picture of me:


  1. I am super happy with the haircut, you no longer look like a hippie, now I can be proud of you

  2. @David Yes, I got a haircut. It's a lot shorter than I'm used to, but I digg it.

    @Miriam No, there was no King Kong ride. Come to think of it, I never even rode the one in America either. I guess I missed my chance to ride it years ago.