Studio Ghibli: What We Know About Ghibli Park

Screenshot of Sophie and Markl from ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. Copyright goes to Studio Ghibli.

Hey! Hallie here!

For those who don’t know, Studio Ghibli has been teasing the opening of a new theme park for a while now. As of yesterday, we finally got an opening date! It is now officially opening later this year on November first. If you’re wondering how you could have missed the news about a Ghibli theme park when it’s already opening this year, don’t feel bad. We haven’t gotten very many updates on this project and the secrecy has made pretty much everyone surprised that we’re getting this park so soon. However, what we do have gives us a good enough picture of the theme and purpose of this park. So here’s everything we know so far!

Location:

This park is being built inside Aichi Expo Memorial Park in Aichi Prefecture, located between major tourist locations Tokyo and Kyoto. The park is full of gorgeous things to see that will stay intact even with the theme park moving in. The Expo Museum is a permanent fixture that showcases the robots and nature-based projects that were shown at the 2005 expo. There’s a traditional Japanese Garden complete with a tea shop where you can pay to take part in a tea ceremony. Flower Square is surrounded by flowers and houses a restaurant for guests to enjoy. There’s also a children’s area dedicated to interacting with nature and a Ferris wheel where you can see it all from above! While we don’t know what kinds of attractions we’ll see in the Ghibli park, we do know that the park won’t be the only thing worth exploring in that area! One of the areas of the theme park, Dondoko Forest, has already been partially open to the public as another staple of Aichi Expo Memorial Park. That’s because the already existing house of Satsuki and Mei from ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ is going to become part of the new theme park. The house is entirely screen accurate, from the water pump outside, to acorns scattered in dark locations, to the bus stop a few paces away. The clothes the characters own can be found inside the house along with all of Tatsuo’s (Mei and Satsuki’s father’s) books and archeology materials. Their bike even sits outside! I can’t wait to see the house surrounded by a completely immersive environment!

The Themed Areas:

Three out of five of the themed areas in this theme park will open starting November first. The first is the above mentioned Dondoko Forest, an area based on ‘My Neighbor Totoro’. No other attractions have been confirmed for this location other that the replica house that already exists and a few nature paths, but we can expect more to be added to the location. The next is the entrance of the park, Springtime of Youth Hill. This area is set to have buildings and details inspired by ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, ‘Castle in the Sky’, and ‘Whisper of the Heart’. The observation tower serving as the entrance to the park is being described as steampunk, which definitely aligns with ‘Castle in the Sky’ and some of ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. There will also be a replica of the antique shop from ‘Whisper of the Heart’ for fans of that film and ‘The Cat Returns’. Finally, the largest area that will be opening in November is Ghibli’s Giant Warehouse. Much like theme parks we’ve seen in places like Abu Dahbi, this area will be entirely indoors despite housing large structures. Among those structures is an area based on ‘Spirited Away’, a Totoro themed children’s play area, various exhibition rooms including a small theatre, and reportedly the Air Destroyer Goliath from ‘Castle in the Sky’. The two locations that will come later, supposedly next year, are Princess Mononoke Village and Witch Valley. The first will be a replica of Irontown, or Tatara-ba, complete with statues of the mystical and terrifying creatures in the film including the corrupted boar god Lord Okkoto. The second is a mix of ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ attractions, among those being Howl’s castle and Kiki’s childhood home.

Park Purpose:

For a theme park we’re seeing a lot of replicas of locations from the movies and not a lot of rides, right? Well, that’s because the focus of this park isn’t rides. While we don’t know as of yet whether or not rides will be completely absent from this theme park, we do know that there will not be very many if there are. The point here is to showcase the many gorgeous worlds Studio Ghibli has brought to life while reveling in the nature surrounding it all. This park won’t be tearing down any trees. The point of each location is to coexist with the nature around it, which is not surprising if you’ve seen movies like ‘Princess Mononoke’ and ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ where environmentalism is at the forefront. Hayao Miyazaki is passionate about caring for nature and avoiding unneeded structures that are made purely for human entertainment and money, so a giant rollercoaster is not something you’re going to see here. But if you’re like me and you just like exploring immersive environments, that won’t be a concern at all.

That’s what we know about the park so far! I can’t wait to see what it’ll be like when it opens. I’ve been planning my dream trip to Japan for years now, and this park opening is only increasing my desire to visit the country and all of the Ghibli exhibits I’ve had my eye on for so long. Hopefully everything will be much safer once Ghibli Park opens so no one is at risk of danger while exploring the gorgeous scenery they have planned.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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