If you were captivated by all the enchanting scenes from the anime films made by Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli, then you can just imagine how enchanted they would look in real life. Luckily, you won’t have to imagine for too long.
That’s because Ghibli Park, the much-awaited theme park featuring attractions based on the studio’s timeless films, is on track to open in the third quarter of 2022.
The theme park was first announced in 2017, and was initially slated to open this year but was delayed due to the pandemic. Fortunately, construction resumed last July, with a groundbreaking ceremony marking the progress.
“We aim to make the facility a world-class park and hope many people will visit here,” Studio Ghibli chairman Kiyofumi Nakajima shared at the event.
So which Studio Ghibli settings are we set to see inside the park?
The 7.1-hectare Ghibli Park will be constructed within Japan’s Aichi Prefecture near its capital of Nagoya and will feature five themed land.
The Springtime of Life Hill, as seen on Howl’s Moving Castle, will replicate the giant elevator that will take guests up to where the magnificent views can be seen. It will be located near the park’s entrance and will house a gift shop that’s reminiscent of the one from Whisper of the Heart.
The Dondoke Forest will be a faithful recreation of the rural Showa period setting in My Neighbor Totoro. This will be where the house of sisters Satsuki and Mei Kusakabe will be located. Since it was already built for the 2005 World Expo, it – as well as the lush greeneries and the footpaths – will simply be maintained.
The Princess Mononoke Village will transport guests to the Muromachi period (1336-1573) when the film is set. It will include a replica of Princess Mononoke’s settlement of Tatara or Irontown, surrounded by high walls and a local lake. It will also include a sculpture of boar-god Lord Okkoto, a Tatarigami spirit monster, and other mystical creatures from the film.
The Witch Valley will feature wasteland settings as lifted from the films Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service¸ and is projected to house the park’s restaurants and amusement stations. This will also be the location of Karikiya, where Kiki’s family lived in the film, as well as the eponymous Howl’s Castle, which is set to stand at four to five stories. Sadly, it won’t be able to move like the one in the movie.
Lastly, Ghibli’s Giant Warehouse will be an indoor area that will showcase fusion-style buildings of both Japanese and Western architecture. It will house video exhibition rooms, play areas, gift shops, and cafés.
Perhaps the best part of the project is that Studio Ghibli has sworn to protect the environment on which the park will stand. That means that they won’t cut down any trees to make room for the attractions, and will instead incorporate them into the design by building nature trails teeming with animal sculptures. They also forewent plans to build enormous thrill rides in favor of nature trails and eco-tours around the park. They meant it when they said the park will pop straight out of the movies!
An exact opening date, as well as admission rates, are yet to be released. Nonetheless, we’re already penning this one down on our itineraries once the pandemic lets up!
(images from Studio Ghibli)