Award-winning Studio Ghibli will open its first theme park in November.
The Japanese theme park, based on the works of Miyazaki Hayao and his animation firm Studio Ghibli, have confirmed that the themed areas of Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, Hill of Youth, and Dondoko Forest will be the first to open its fantasy like doors on 1 November, 2022. Many of Studio Ghibli’s iconic films will feature, including Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), My Neighbour Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997) and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away (2001).
The park will cover 200 hectares (494 acres) and is a JPY34bn ($295m) joint venture involving Studio Ghibli, the government of Aichi Prefecture and the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper. Construction began in 2019 with Ghibli handling the creative side of the project. Once all themed sections are complete, the target date for opening would be by the end of autumn 2023. Entry to the public Expo Park itself will remain free but there will be admission fees for entering the Ghibli-themed areas. Visitor numbers are expected to total around one million in the early stages and hit 1.8 million annually when all sections are finished.
With close consultation with the surrounding forest, the park is being built on and within the grounds of Aichi Earth Expo 2005 Memorial Park (Moricoro Park), to the east of its nearest main city, Nagoya – a three-hour train journey from downtown Tokyo.
“Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse is an indoor facility that stores all the studio’s secrets, from large to small artefacts and exhibits from past Studio Ghibli movies,” says the park. “You will find fantasy-filled exhibitions such as Robot Soldier, Cat Bus, and kid-sized film studio exhibitions.”
As well as the first three themed worlds to have been announced, there are a further two in the pipelines, which are to be called Valley of Witches and Mononoke Village. All these attractions are based on the studio’s most famous films and the themed areas are to blend in with the existing nature in the park. Local media in Japan suggest that there will be rides at Studio Ghibli, however, there will be no usual roller coasters. Nature trails are to be given greater importance instead with no trees cut down. The park encourages guests to “Take a stroll, feel the wind, and discover the wonders.”
Studio Ghibli theme park aims to marvel guests through a mixture of animatronics and nature. There will be a life-size, 16-metre tall version of Howl’s Moving Castle, which will be fitted with moving cannons resembling eyeballs. Visitors inside the castle will be welcomed to peek into the magician’s quirky bedroom. Another area will be Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse. A former swimming pool, the indoor area will house an exhibition room, a children’s playground, shops and restaurants, plus a warehouse to store all the exhibits. The exhibition room will accommodate a small cinema fitted with 170 seats. This colourful setting will incorporate both Japanese and Western architectural designs. There will also be a re-creation of the sky garden from the movie ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’, with a 6.3-metre scale of the film’s airship, which will hang from the ceiling.
“Welcome to the great warehouse of Studio Ghibli’s secrets and iconic architectures you have seen in the films,” promises the park. A Hollywood blockbuster of entertainment awaits us this autumn.