Studio Ghibli’s official amusement park to open in November 2022
On May 31, 2017, Studio Ghibli officially announced working on a project of opening an official Ghibli theme park 🎡 in the beginning of 2020. The chosen site is to recreate My Neighbor Totoro’s atmosphere is Morikoro Park, in Nagoya’s suburb. The place already displays Mei and Satsuki’s house, built for 2005 Aichi’s International Exhibition.
It is the first step for a park dedicated to immersion into Studio Ghibli’s universe, especially in famous filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s works. There will be not roller coasters but rather recreations of the studio’s movies settings.
🌿 A park divided into 5 universes
In 2018, Aichi prefecture announced details on the park. It will spread on a 7,1 hectares area (of the 200 of the Universal Expo’s site) and open on November 1, 2022. Construction work started on July 28, 2020, with no foreseeable delay due to the Coronavirus 🦠.
Ghibli Park will be divided into five areas:
The two last areas are expected to open a little bit later: at the end of 2023 for Mononoke and late March 2024 for the Valley of Witches (construction works have started in 2021).
There will also be a small The Cats Returns area free to access from summer 2023.
The estimated construction cost is ¥34 billion (~230 million dollars), of which ¥3 billion (~20.3 million dollars) were spent on design and mapping.
An official presentation video was released, but with very few hints regarding the actual park:
The zoning choices reflect the will to accommodate children in the best way possible, as families are the main target of this amusement park. Therefore, there is NO attraction based on:
- Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (whose copyrights are not owned by Ghibli as a matter of fact);
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind;
- Grave of the Fireflies;
- Pom Poko;
- Porco Rosso;
- Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea;
- The Secret World of Arrietty;
- The Tale of The Princess Kaguya;
- From Up on Poppy Hill;
- The Wind Rises.
Moreover, movies directed by Isao Takahata (1935-2018) are not featured in the park.
Lukewarm reception at the opening
Ghibli Park has safely opened on November 1, 2022, but feedback from the first visitors lack enthusiasm. On the positive side and contrary to the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, taking pictures is allowed making the park an ideal destination for Instagramming. It is even possible to touch the settings and decors at Satsuki and Mei’s House.
However, the park suffers from a lack of an authentically "Miyazaki-esque" touch, especially the area dedicated to the Grand Ghibli Warehouse, overwhelmed by the modern structure sheltering it.
See for yourself with this video shot on the day of opening:
Moreover, tickets are to be purchased by advance booking only, with prices and visitors caps varying according to the day, time slots for visiting, and the combined ticket to use from February 2023 only covers 2 areas out of the 3 available.
Considering the appreciable detour necessary to reach the former Aichi Universal Exhibition venue, Ghibli Park is to be recommended only to the Japanese animation studio’s hard-core fans only.
🎨 Hayao Miyazaki in charge of the design
At the end of 2018, it was announced that the design of the park will be created by Studio Ghibli and the park itself will be built by the firm Nihon Sekkei for an estimated amount of ¥284,439,600 (~1.9 million dollars). It is a sure fact that Hayao Miyazaki will have a say in the overall look of the park.
On May 31, 2019, two years after the announcement of the park’s creation, Aichi prefecture’s governor Hideaki Omura published on his Twitter account Ghibli Park’s official logo. It represents the name "Ghibli Park" ジブリパーク in katakana drawn by:
- Hayao Miyazaki (filmmaker and co-founder of the studio) for the first word ジブリ Ghibli; and,
- Toshio Suzuki (producer and president of the studio at the time) for the last characters パーク Park.
The katakana's design reminds of nature and forest undergrowth, with a reference to the cute soot gremlins, the susuwatari.
On a side note, the park’s communication is totally made by Aichi prefecture, and not by Studio Ghibli, whose official website barely mentions the project.
Cross-sections and sketches of the five areas were disclosed (see our photo gallery). Those last elements confirm Miyazaki’s implication in designing the general ambiance of the park. Colorful constructions in eclectic architectural styles are surrounded by nature and the nearby forest. A design true to Studio Ghibli’s universe that will please fans without a doubt.
💴 Admission fee and booking
In the same manner as for Ghibli Museum, advance booking is required, and tickets are not purchasable on site. Reservation is possible since August 2022 for the opening on November 1rst. Buying tickets from overseas is currently impossible, so visitors may consider purchasing through a Japan-specialized travel agency.
Each area has its own admission fee:
- Ghibli's Grand Warehouse:
- On a weekday: ¥2,000 (~US$13.53), with a limit of 3,500 admissions per day
- On the weekend and holidays: ¥2,500 (~US$16.91), with a limit of 4,000 admissions per day
- Dondoko Forest: ¥1,000 (~US$6.76), with a daily admissions cap set to 750 on the weekend and 650 on a weekday
- Hill of Youth: ¥1,000 (~US$6.76), with a daily admissions cap set to 900 on the weekend and 780 on a weekday
Children’s admission fee (4 to 12 years old) is half the price. It is free for children up to 3 years old.
Starting 2022, November 10, it is possible to book tickets for visits from February 2023, with a few changes in the organization:
- Admission tickets are sold on a "first come first served basis," and not through a lottery system
- The combined ticket for 2 areas "Ghibli's Grand Warehouse and Hill of Youth" replaces the Hill of Youth only ticket, with the following new prices:
- On a weekday: ¥3,000 (~US$20.29), with a limit of 650 admissions per day
- On the weekend and holidays: ¥3,500 (~US$23.67), with a limit of 770 admissions per day.
However, considering the quite low daily cap and the high expectations from the public, tickets sell out very quickly, even faster than tickets for the Ghibli Museum.
The park is open from 10 a.m. on a weekday and from 9 a.m. on the weekend. Closing hour is 5 p.m.
Ghibli Park is expecting to receive 1 million visitors in 2022 then 1,8 million per year once the five areas are completed. After completion of the park, a revenue of ¥48 billion (~324.7 million dollars) is expected annually.