Hey! Hallie here!
A while ago I made a post detailing everything we know about Ghibli Park, Studio Ghibli’s new theme park, and when everything will be open to the public. But now the park’s officially open which means we have plenty more to talk about! As I’ve said before, though the park has been opened, it isn’t completely finished. There are two large areas that aren’t complete. In fact, we won’t see the park completely open until next year. I’ll get into what that means in a little bit. That said, there are three sizable areas already open and the park’s first guests seemed to be impressed with what they saw. So let’s talk about what’s available to see now and what we can expect later.
What’s Currently Open:
There are three full areas that are completely open. These areas are Dondoko Forest, Springtime of Youth Hill, and Ghibli’s Giant Warehouse. Dondoko Forest was, at least partially, open to the public before. Guests could tour Mei and Satsuki’s house back when it was a lone fixture in Aichi Expo Memorial Park. It’s still there, and as detailed and screen-accurate as ever. Near the house you can also find their father’s bike, their water pump, and Satsuki’s hat and ear of corn sitting on a bench. Added to this area is a gorgeous staircase where acorns can be found placed around the area, all leading up to a giant, wooden Totoro statue. This area is breathtaking and, as promised, completely surrounded by trees. But be warned, it’s quite bit of a walk compared to how close the other locations are. It takes about ten minutes at a brisk pace to walk to this location, but you’re rewarded with pretty bridges and gorgeous greenery to accompany you along the way. Springtime of Youth Hill is the next. As promised, the ‘Castle in the Sky’ elevator tower is located here in all its steampunk glory. It’s also located at the entry to the park so you’ll be able to look over the entire park right when you come in thanks to the tower. Further in the Springtime of Youth Hill is the antique shop from ‘Whisper of the Heart’, which is another screen-accurate replica. Sadly, guests aren’t allowed to share what the inside looks like at the moment. Near the shop you can find the cat-sized Cat Bureau from ‘The Cat Returns’! Looking inside the windows will give you a full view of the Baron and Muta enjoying their tea inside the very cozy and extremely detailed house. Also nearby are Shizuku’s hat and book from ‘Whisper of the Heart’, as well as the tunnel she envisions in the film.
The biggest area currently open is ‘Ghibli’s Giant Warehouse’. There’s so much to see in this warehouse. There’s a theater that plays exclusive Ghibli shorts for the park. There’s a warehouse inside the warehouse full of old exhibits that were previously on display at various different locations. There’s a cafe apparently based on ‘Spirited Away’. You can sit inside the Catbus and feel its furry interior. You can visit a detailed recreation of Arrietty’s home including extremely large plants and her gorgeous bedroom. You can sit next to No-Face on the train. You can peak in on Yubaba doing some work at her desk. You can even walk up to one of the giant robots from ‘Castle In The Sky’ stuck into the wall. And, as promised, the Air Destroyer Goliath from ‘Castle in the Sky’ hovers overhead with moving elements to sell its realness. I should also note that the warehouse has by far the largest gift shop in the park, and one of the only gift shops to sell Ghibli related merchandise. The other locations in the park have merchandise with Ghibli nods, but they all focus more on selling something you’d be likely to see if you were to really visit the locations in Ghibli films. Because only the one store as of now carries the major Ghibli merchandise, the lines to check out have been hours long. Hopefully they expand the places to buy this kind of merch soon. Aside from the areas I already discussed, there’s one small area that has a ‘Spirited Away’ theming complete with the statue Chihiro encounters outside of the tunnel. But for your ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’, and ‘Princess Mononoke’ fixes, you’ll need to wait until 2023, or later if they do what many theme parks do and push it back, for ‘Witch Valley’ and ‘Princess Mononoke Village’ to open.
What to Expect Moving Forward:
At first the date given for the remaining areas in Ghibli Park was 2024, hence why I’m hesitant to believe in the newer date, but now they’re assuring us we’ll see the remaining locations by next year. In these locations we’ll see recreations of Kiki’s home, Howl’s Castle, and the entirety of Irontown. There have been some rumors that along with these we might see a teacup ride of some sort, as seen in the artist rendering, but I’m still wary about that. Which leads me to my next point. If you’re planning on visiting Ghibli Park and you’re expecting a regular theme park, I’d encourage you to approach this as if it’s a mix between a large museum and a large collection of gardens. This park isn’t going to have many rides, if any at all, because it would be against Miyazaki’s vision to tear down the already existing plant-life in the area to build Ghibli Park. To honor Miyazaki and the rest of the animation company’s loyalty to nature, every single location is surrounded by flowers and trees. It’s also why some locations take longer to walk to than others. Studio Ghibli has a strong environmentalist message in most of their movies, and as such, they weren’t going to tear anything down for guest convenience or for something as large as a theme park ride. This park instead focuses on immersion, and who wouldn’t want to be immersed in Ghibli?
That’s what we know so far! Currently you have to pay individually to get into each part of the park, but hopefully once it’s all open they’ll turn it into one payment. As more people go to the park and take videos and photos, whether allowed or not, we’ll be able to see what the park looks like more. For now I’ll dream of exploring Ghibli Park while I wait for the next two locations to open. I hope everyone who’s able to go there at the moment has a lot of fun and doesn’t have to wait too long to get their Ghibli merch. Because knowing me, I’d still wait two hours for really cute Ghibli merchandise.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!