Finally, fans of Studio Ghibli can rejoice! After years of hope, dreams and little word from Studio Ghibli on definitive plans, it's been confirmed that construction plans are drawn up and an opening date has been set. The Studio Ghibli Theme Park will feature several settings and buildings from the popular library of cartoons. If you love Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, or all of the above and many more, then grab a handful of enchanted forest cat fur. It's time to fly through a few facts we already know about the Studio Ghibli Theme Park.
The park will be divided into sections representing the studio's many creations, and that's a lot if you know anything about Studio Ghibli. There are a few that we know are already planned but most of the park remains a mystery other than a few conceptual drawings. The front gate is designed to look like Howl's Moving Castle. You'll be able to find the gift shop from Whisper of the Heart in the Youth Hill Area. The enchanted forest watched over by Totoro has a corner of the park to itself. Other iconic and memorable places could also appear in the park, like the bathhouse or carnival from Spirited Away.
The entire park will be organized into five distinct realms, all either inspired by or based on the settings and characters in some of Studio Ghibli's most popular films. The Youth Hill Area is mostly forested, with many wooded pathways and two or three mysterious homes and shops to visit. The Ghibli Large Warehouse Area is where the exhibitions and shopping areas will be, along with movie theaters. To see a smaller town at the mercy of an angry forest god, visit Mononoke's Village. Immerse yourself in the power of nature in the Dondoko Forest, the home of the powerful and whimsical forest spirit, Totoro. Satsuki and Mei's house will likely be in this part of the park. The Witches' Valley area recalls the magic angle in many Ghibli movies, like Kiki's Delivery Service and Howl's Moving Castle.
The Studio Ghibli Theme Park will be at the present location of Aichi Commemorative Park, near Nagoya in central Japan, which was also the site of Expo 2005. The site already contains a replica of the country home that's a part of the setting and story of My Neighbor Totoro. The house will be fully integrated into the park as one of the many set recreations intended to immerse visitors in the wonderful world of Ghibli.
The park will encompass 500 acres, plenty of space for all those iconic settings and characters from the many Studio Ghibli stories. A lot of this will be natural, untouched space, like the setting for many of these films. Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro were all movies that took place in the quiet magic of the natural world. These films are some of the most recognizable creations from Studio Ghibli and remain the most popular.
If you've been to Disneyworld in Florida, you might have seen Ghibli merchandise for sale in one of the many gift shops. This was only because Disney owned the rights to distribute Ghibli films and merch in the US up until 2017, but those rights were recently acquired by GKIDS instead. The Studio Ghibli theme park in Japan won't be connected to Disney in any way, so you'll have to go stateside if you want a pair of mouse ears.
Although the two locations will always operate separately, the insanely successful Ghibli Museum is what partially inspired the theme park. The Ghibli Studio was able to use the museum's success as leverage when making a plan for a much larger theme park. The Ghibli Museum is in the small town of Mitaka, which is west of Tokyo. This attraction is so popular that it sells tickets every month for admission and is always sold out within hours.
You won't find any big roller coasters or thrill rides in this theme park. The focus is on immersing visitors in the worlds of Ghibli. There will be rides, but everything is intended to bring the animated features to life. Construction is planned to enhance and preserve any natural areas. Nature trails will be lined with statues of spiders, boars and other characters from popular Ghibli films. Visitors will also be able to explore replicas of the buildings that are featured in the movies, from moving castles to humble shops.
Ghibli Studios isn't a construction company, so who is actually building the park? During a press conference in 2019, representatives of the Aichi Prefecture and the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper joined a producer of Ghibli Studios to announce their contributions to the park's development. Ghibli will provide the design, while the local municipality handles the actual construction. The newspaper has dibs on public relations activities, such as press announcements and advertising. If you want to know what's happening with the park's construction, keep an eye on the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper.
We don't have a more definite date than this at this point but considering how little news there's been, we'll take it. There are a few ways to narrow down the possibilities, however. Before the park opens, another important event takes place here in 2020, the Summer Olympics. Hopefully, we'll be able to see the park nearing completion when we tune in to see the games, which will also be great publicity for the upcoming park opening.
The most recent news regarding the park was unveiled only a few weeks ago. The official logo was revealed as part of a joint press conference between Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura and Chunichi CEO Uichiro Oshima. The logo was designed by Hayao Miyazaki, the man himself, and fellow animator Isao Takahata, who passed away last year.