Have you always wanted to follow Totoro deeper into the forest? A Studio Ghibli theme park will open its doors in Japan in 2022, recreating the worlds of the animation studio’s films.
After some postponements due to the pandemic, Ghibli says the park is ready to open its doors in November. Where is it located? What will be inside? Will [insert your personal favorite Ghibli film] have a themed location? Will there be roller coasters? Here’s everything we know about the Studio Ghibli theme park.
WHERE IS STUDIO GHIBLI THEME PARK?
Ghibli’s park will be located in Aichi Commemorative Park, a place near Nagoya in central Japan. The park was the site of the 2005 World’s Fair, where Studio Ghibli helped build a replica of Satsuki and Mei’s house from “My Neighbor Totoro.”
WHAT’S IN THE STUDIO GHIBLI PARK?
According to reports, Ghibli Park is divided into five lands, some of which are based on specific films, while others come from multiple sources of Ghibli-based influence. The park is located on a 200-acre site that easily lends itself to the various sprawling, pastoral inspirations of the Ghibli films (for context, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is about 50 acres, while Animal Kingdom is about 230 acres). The park will focus on recreating the scenes and nature trails of the film, rather than thrills and rides.
Springtime of Life Hill (or Youth Hill): This area will be modeled after Howl’s Moving Castle and will house a giant steampunk elevator that will give guests a view of the entire land. This area will reportedly be located around the entrance of the park and will include many 19th-century-inspired accents. It will also include some inspiration from Whisper of the Heart, especially the buildings inspired by the antique store featured in the film.
Dondoko Forest Area: The My Neighbor Totoro-inspired area will feature a recreation of Mei and Satsuki’s house from the film in a lush rural landscape from the film. Walking tours and trails are planned in this area, designed to incorporate much of the area’s existing infrastructure.
Ghibli Large Warehouse Area: designed to be accessible in all seasons and weather, this large indoor area with Japanese and Western style buildings will house the restaurants, stores, play areas and exhibition spaces. It will feature a Spirited Away-inspired dining area.
Mononoke’s Village Area: dedicated to Princess Mononoke, this area will house a replica of Irontown and commemorate the Muromachi period (1336-1573) that inspired the film. It will also house giant sculptures of the ghosts and creatures of the film. This is one of the sites that will open in 2023.
Witches’ Valley Area: Inspired by Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle, this area will include a small amusement park and a replica of Kiki’s childhood home and Howl’s Castle. This is the other location that will open in 2023.
WHEN WILL GHIBLI PARK OPEN?
The park will open on November 1, 2022. Three of the five areas (Springtime of Life Hill, Ghibli Warehouse and Dondoko Forest) will be available on opening day, with the remaining two areas opening in 2023.
Park features and attractions
The existing Totoro elements will be expanded to “peacefully integrate with nature.” There will be rides, but the giant roller coasters that dominate many theme parks will be eschewed in favor of nature trails that will feel like they came straight out of the movies.
Interestingly, Miyazaki insisted that no trees will be cut down in the formation of the park. Instead, the park will celebrate the natural beauty that inspired their lush animation.
Concept drawings have been released for certain parts of the park. Themed play areas, galleries and cinemas will be inhabited by statues of Ghibli creatures. Each area is described below.
1. Hill of Youth
Also known as Hill of Youth, this section is based in part on Howl’s Moving Castle. At the north entrance to the park, you will find a yellow gate and an observation tower with 19th-century objects from Howl’s Moving Castle.
This section also includes European-style brick buildings and buildings reminiscent of the Seiseki-Sakuragaoka antique store in Tokyo’s Whisper of the Heart neighborhood.
2. Large Ghibli Warehouse
The warehouse also called Ghibli’s Large Warehouse or Big Ghibli Warehouse will be located on the former site of a large swimming pool. It is an indoor attraction that can be enjoyed in all seasons and weather.
The Warehouse will feature a children’s play area based on “My Neighbor Totoro” and the sky garden from “Laputa: Castle in the Sky.” There will also be an area resembling the setting of the 2010 film “Arrietty.”
Other highlights include an exhibition space, movie theater, stores, restaurants, and a literal warehouse where filming exhibitions are stored. The warehouse’s concept art has been described as “eclectic” and incorporates Japanese and Western architectural design elements.
3. Mononoke Village
Mononoke Village, based on the film Princess Mononoke, takes visitors back to the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573) in which the film is set. It recreates Tatara-ba or Irontown, named after a traditional Japanese metal smelting furnace.
The area is inhabited by figures of the spider-like Tatari Gami, the god of destruction; the egg god Lord Okkoto; and other mystical creatures.
4. Witch Valley
This colorful area, also called the Valley of Witches, will feature attractions themed after Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle, including the castle itself and Kiki’s family home.
The bakery where Kiki lives and works will also be recreated, and visitors will be able to buy bread just as they do in the movie.
5. Dondoko Forest
Based on My Neighbor Totoro, this area resembles the show period (1926 to 1989). The area will expand on existing structures and blend into the surrounding landscape.
Admission fees for the Studio Ghibli theme park.
We do not yet know what the entrance fees will be for the Studio Ghibli Theme Park. This information will be released closer to the park’s opening date.
Information about what souvenirs will be available and the gastronomic establishments in the theme park is yet to be released.