Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ameripan: Universal Studios Japan

I never thought of a fun title for this one either, but I think that will be sufficient to describe the mix of Japanese culture and American atmosphere and music and signs that made up USJ, or Universal Studios Japan, which is a smaller version of the Florida one. Luckily, Riyo said it was not as ridiculously crowded as it usually is when we went, which is nice. Although waiting in line for a ticket was lame, but that usually happens.

So anyway, we get to the CityWalk, which if you have been to Florida is a line of shops and things before the park itself, and there are about 15 people dressed as Waldo from Where's Waldo. I think this is a great start to the day, haha.

Too funny

USJ also has a cool covered section just like Disneyland with one of the rollercoasters arcing with it. Heckyes. Speaking of said rollercoaster, our first stop was the musical coaster Hollywood Dream. I say musical coaster because similar to one in America, you get to pick a song that plays while you ride the ride. There were only 5 to choose from, but it was preeeetty awesome to ride a rollercoaster to a Jpop song. (The song I picked was sickeningly happy and I have become addicted to its beat haha)

Anyway, there are two big coasters in this park, both of which have lockers that for a 100 yen (which you get back when you get your stuff, unheard of) you can store your bags and things when you go on the ride. When I say things, I mean everything. Every single thing in your pockets needed to come out. I forgot I had my mp3 in my side pocket, so I had to go back and put it in the locker. They were very serious about you having absolutely nothing. (When I got up to the ride itself, I had to tuck my necklace in my shirt and put my glasses in a basket. Riyo also put rubber bands on her flats even though she coaster was not one where your feet were open) I thought all of this was ridiculously strict at first, but then I thought about it some more.

In Japan, people don't use pockets right. Men walk around with their wallets hanging literally halfway out of their back pocket; they can do this because this country is so safe no one will take it. However, no one's pockets are sturdy enough to actually hold anything on something such as a rollercoaster. Thinking this way, this makes perfect sense. Riyo also said everyone would try to take videos too.

So the rollercoaster was fun. It was also funny, one of the operators is a drinking buddy of one of my classmates because they come to USJ often, haha. The operators also clapped upon our return; this happened on a couple other rides too. Heehee.

I really liked the next coaster. (This time I completely emptied all pockets) This was an indoor coaster called  Space Fantasy, where somethingsomething you have to go use your energy to save the sun whatever happens. Sweet. They also took your picture before you got on the ride for the souvenir....alriiiight.

I really enjoyed this one; instead of a train there were pods of 4 in groups of 2 to go along the track...and they spun! So even though it probably wasn't going that fast, the fact that it was spinning sometimes made it cooler. Also, on the inside there weren't just starts, there were planets and little sunpeople and shiny things and it was really awesome. Space Mountain should be like this.

Oh yes. On the way to Space Fantasy we passed a huge line. Crazy long. The weird part was, there was no sign marking it as an attraction. Just a nuts line. Walking a bit further, we saw another huge line in front of The Mummy Museum with a little sign. This attraction is a brand new, limited time haunted house. Because of its popularity, you have to wait in the line by the Mummy Museum sign first and get a ticket, and then go wait in the other line for the actual haunted house. Dumb. I don't understand why the actual ride wasn't decorated? Needless to say, we did not wait forever to go in the haunted house. Gah.

It was about at this point where I started to realize the copious amounts of English was not meant to be understood, it was just meant to be a set piece. (There was a sign that said 'Keep off the grass' next to people on the grass and I was confused for a while) They also played a lot of popular American songs even though no one knew them to promote the atmosphere, as Riyo said. I thought it was very interesting. We also theorized that the popcorn exists because they think we eat a lot of popcorn. I then explained that was true for the movies, but not theme parks. Riyo was surprised, haha.

I was not amused however, when one of these English signs said 'Funnel Cake and Ice Cream.' I was so excited for funnel cake, and Riyo had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. Stupid decorations.

Anyway, next was the Spiderman ride, which is the same (even English signs in the queue) except the ride itself is in Japanese. Still very fun. Next we hit up Back to the Future, which I am told used to be in Florida, but was taken out for the Simpsons ride, so by the time I went there for the first time it was already gone. I am also told the one here is the same; I definitely believe them because all the introduction videos were completely dubbed over. It was a fun ride though!

This dubbing was definitely a pattern. Rides that were the same were usually dubbed over. Although strangely enough, the safety video (just the safety one) for the Jurassic Park ride was not dubbed, but they still had a white guy be the speaker? It threw me and Riyo off when I noticed it was real, ahha.

Before we went on Jurassic Park (which is the same, you also don't get very wet just like Florida thank god) we stopped for a bit of food. We got a Hello Kitty meat bun and some maple popcorn! We hit the lottery there; all the other stands I saw were caramel and we got the maple. Win. It was delicious.

THEN we rode Jurassic Park. Oh, also, said safety video used a fat American as the example person who was doing everything wrong on the ride such as eating and smoking. I laughed. There was also an animatronic dinosaur walking around. Literally. I don't know.

Next was Jaws, which didn't need to be dubbed because they had people giving the tours on the boat, haha. We took a picture with the giant shark too; they usually let you take one picture with your camera and try to sell you theirs. But it was so expensive or I would have bought one. Boo.

At this point we went over to the Terminator show/ride! (On the way over we saw a showthing called Backdraft, an old ride from Florida about firefighters that I think I remember?) The Terminator show was...interesting. In the beginning, a lady (apparently a well-known comedy person in Japan) was asking people where they were from before explaining about the evil company. I was tempted to raise my hand and say I was from America, but I was intimidated by all the fast Japanese.

When we moved into the theater, it was half 3D half live show. I've only seen the first Terminator movie, so I was only half sure what was going on, but I understood a bit of the dialogue, which was awesome.

When we exited the ride, we had to walk through a gift shop of course....but it had One Piece stuff. Why, you ask? Well no where is safe for one. But this summer, next month even, a live action One Piece show is coming to USJ.

No fair I say. I made Davey (a friend who is staying til July) promise me that if he went he'd see it for me ;) Still. I was sad.

After questing in vain for some cool souvenirs (all the cool t shirts were for guys or too expensive) we stopped for some dinner. (Side bar: I noticed I like buying useful souvenirs. I buy too many cups and t shirts haha) We went to some random Italian food place that had some reasonable cheap pizza and MAC AND CHEESE BITES--

Let me explain. At college, after 9 o clock the only close places open to eat at are Sheetz and Taco Bell. I hate Taco Bell, so when we're hungry on Saturday night at 2 in the morning we go to Sheetz, and I usually get friend mac and cheese bites, and they are very delicious.

So imagine my surprise seeing them in USJ in Japan in an Italian restaurant. Yeah. I was so excited Riyo went and bought some as well! They were delicious. Sogood.

It was parade time! Because of course USJ has a light parade a la Disney. It was even "Alice in Wonderland," "Aladdin," and "Cinderella" themed! Of course they weren't the Alice, Aladdin, and Cinderella, but somehow they got the rights to those names. It was still a cute parade; I love theme park parades.

Then, as we were leaving (we also saw the Waldos, haha) we stopped at the Jump Store (because its a manga store, come now) and did some purikura. Because what is an outing without purikura!

Riyo also helped my buy some baseball tickets, whose story remains to be seen....

OH here's pictures!


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