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How to get your Halloween on at Universal Studios Japan

Published October 9th, 2015

Halloween may be just one night a year, but at Universal Studios Japan, they’ve extended the spine-tingling thrills for 59 days with the Universal Surprise Halloween event, from September 11 to November 8.  As one of only two Universal Studios theme parks in Asia (the other is in Singapore), Universal Studios Japan in Osaka brings an oriental flavour to the US-themed fun park, which is to say the Japanese version is hella good. There’s all your fave movie characters (Minions, Snoopy, Spider-Man, Elmo and Harry Potter) plus some local and international celebs (Hello Kitty!), plus thrill rides, horror night attractions, zombie attacks and some freakishly awesome Halloween grub. Before you rock up to Universal Studios Japan (USJ), here’s what you need to know before you go.

Not sure why these two were so popular with photographers... (Image: Cassandra Laffey)

1. Dress up

Let’s face it. After primary school, there’s little opportunity for grownups to dress up (toga parties and Oktoberfest excluded). During the Universal Surprise Halloween event, you’ll be the odd one out if you don’t come in costume. Minions and zombies (and zombie Minions) were the most popular outfits on the day I visited, and an easy costume to assemble if you’re travelling. If you’re staying in Osaka, pop into one of the variety stores for a costume option before you head to USJ, or sit yourself in the makeup chair for an one-hour zombie makeover at the Horror Shop.

Oh hai! Costume Party! (Image: Cassandra Laffey)

You’ll need your costume to take part in Costume Party – a part-choreographed dance, part-DJ party hosted by three manga characters. Unless you speak Japanese, you won’t have a clue what’s going on, but the spectacle of dancers, costumed park goers and coloured confetti is a must-see sight.

All. The. Foods. (Image: Cassandra Laffey)

2. Eat all the Halloween foods (and drinks!)

Zombie cocktails in beakers, mummy churros and mochi rice balls that stain your tongue different colours? Yep, USJ knows how to do Halloween treats (or should that be tricks?). Also on the food cart menu at the Halloween Happiness Market (in the San Francisco street area) are spider sodas with gummy worms, whole turkey legs doused in sauce and cheesy hotdogs that look like severed fingers. Yum!

The cutest undead snack - mummy churros. (Image: Cassandra Laffey)

Other Halloween hotspots. The 5 best Halloween haunts around the world

Scare yourself stupid here. World's most haunted cities


Pale and interesting is so in right now. (Image: Cassandra Laffey)

3. Be a scream queen

Well, maybe not after you’ve consumed an alcoholic zombie cocktail, but you’re at a major theme park so some thrill rides are in order. There’s Hollywood Dream – The Ride Backdrop, a vomit-inducing backwards rollercoaster through the park; The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man –The Ride in 4D; and the hugely popular Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey experience in 4K3D (wait times can be up to three hours, so get thee a free Timed Entry Ticket in advance for peak times).

Hello Kitty x Chucky collab.
(Image: Cassandra Laffey)

Prefer spine-chilling thrills of the cinematic kind? Just for Halloween, USJ has some movie-themed attractions where Freddy Krueger lurks at A Nightmare on Elm Street, Alien versus Predator face off in a laboratory, and Chucky plays in an abandoned toy factory in Chucky’s Horror Factory 2. Remember  Japanese horror flicks Ju-on and Sadako that spawned Hollywood remakes The Grudge and The Ring? They’re here too...

Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade.
(Image: Cassandra Laffey)

4. Get your warlock on

While it’s not a Halloween-themed attraction, witches and wizards of all ages won’t want to miss The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at USJ. Head here at dusk when the light is dimming to get the full winter wonderland effect of Hogsmeade village and shops, the stunning Hogwarts castle and reflective lake near the Three Broomsticks pub.

While the popular characters speaking Japanese (with an English accent!) may be jarring, it’s nothing on the 4K3D indoors Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction!

The freaks come out! Zombies after dark at Universal Studios Japan.
(Image: Cassandra Laffey)

5. Stay after dark

While USJ is super kawaii during the day, Halloween takes a darker turn during the Halloween Horror Night festivities, which includes nine horror attractions this year and runs until the park closes (up to 10pm on weekends). When the lights go out, the main street and other areas are overrun with blood-spattered zombies and even their babies, lurching and grabbing at passersby. Buy a glowing heart neckpiece, which lights up when zombies are coming your way and speeds up with your own heartbeat, for added chills. Chug a beaker of zombie antidote and go along for the ride.

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Check out all the sights in Osaka and Japan with an awesome discounted Black Market Flights airfare from Student Flights.

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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.