The other thing about Universal Studios Japan that I was really looking forward to was its Cool Japan features. For the last couple of years they've had special rides and merchandise for several anime, including - in my humble opinion - one of the best anime of all time, Attack on Titan. I honestly wouldn't have minded spending the whole day in Harry Potter World after doing the Attack on Titan ride. After we had visited Hogwarts the first time, Five followed me over to the Cool Japan area.
We found the armored titan pretty easily, and got in line and had our photos taken. They wanted 1600 yen for their printed photo, I think, but after laughing at them we walked away with the ones the staff had taken on our phones. Then we visited the merch kiosk, where I bought my cloak and a special water bottle cover. Afterwards I was ready to finally, at long last, esperience Shingeki no Kyojin in 4D.
Except that we couldn't. When we went to get in line, we were told that only express pass holders were allowed in the Attack on Titan ride that day. Ever. Not for a certain time. The entire day.
Let me back up and break that down for you. Adult tickets to USJ cost 7800 yen. That's just to get into the park. Our brunch in the Three Broomsticks cost over 2000. My survey corps cloak was 6500 yen. To say that they are making money hand over fist is a gross underestimate. And yet for the privilege of riding Shingeki No Kyojin: The Real I had to pay another 6000 yen? But here's the kicker - there are only so many express passes per day, so actually even if we were willing to shell out, it wasn't possible. For all intents and purposes, we were shut out. And THAT pissed me off.
We went to the Spiderman ride from there. I like Spiderman, especially in his current incarnation. I thought this might ease the pain for me some. Actually, though, it made me bitter. When I should have been screaming and having a good time, I was feeling bad, thinking about how awesome it would have been to experience those special effects as a member of the Survey Corps. Afterwards we lined up to have a picture with Spidey. This is mine. I feel like it adequately expresses my grief for the excellent adventures I might have had, if only I'd been able to experience Levi in 4D.
We continued into the park, deciding to find out what a "walk through" was when we came to the Backdraft area. Five had never heard of it, and I explained that it was a nineties film about firefighters. The line moved relatively fast so it wasn't long until we got inside. And were less than impressed for the first 80% of the presentation. Watching Ron Howard dubbed into Japanese talking about the movie wasn't actually that great. But the third room of the walk through - I connected with that one. There was all sorts of fire and shit, and it reminded me of the burning anger in my heart that USJ's avarice had robbed me of a date with Levi. And then the area where we were standing shook and metal stuff fell and it reminded me of how my heart fell when we found out that our time together was never going to be.
We kept going through the park, checking out shops and snacking, but the fun had sort of died for me. I was perfectly fine paying bank for overpriced swag when I was going to experience the thing that I'd paid 7800 yen to do. Without that experience, I was much less willing to give them my hard-earned cash (especially knowing a trip to Denden Town was in my near future). I hold grudges - so sue me. When we stopped for a meal in the Jurassic Park restaurant, I had a brief glimmer of hope: they had a "dinner and a ride" special where, for 500 yen extra, they'd give you an express pass with your meal. Unfortunately the express pass for Attack on Titan was sold out, but this is my contribution to the interwebs' literature on USJ - if you find out the park did a dickish thing and made your ride unavailable except to express pass holders, go immediately to the Jurassic restaurant and buy dinner and a ride. Bonus: you might get to see a dinosaur while you're there.
Eventually I (mostly) got over it. (Maybe). We got our timed entry ticket back into Harry Potter World and I drowned my sorrows in butterbeer. Then we got to the Mirror of Erised and I saw my heart's greatest and deepest desire: to be on the Attack on Titan ride.