howl's moving castle in studio ghibli theme park

We Want to Get Spirited Away to the Studio Ghibli Theme Park

Fire up the Catbus, the theme park opens on November 1, 2022.
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Fire up the Catbus and grab your woodland sprite best friend: the long-awaited Studio Ghibli theme park has an opening date! On November 1, 2022, the park dedicated to the films of Studio Ghibli will be open to visitors. The famed studio made the announcement via Twitter:

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The park will feature five themes areas inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s timeless films: Hill of Youth, Ghibli’s Large Warehouse, Mononoke’s Village, Valley of Witches and Dondoko Forest. Hill of Youth will serve as the entrance to the park, featuring a yellow observation tower that will double as the main gate. The area will showcase the antiques shop from Whisper of the Heart, featuring 19th-century-inspired curiosities from films like Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Howl’s Moving Castle. Hill of Youth will also feature a mini version of the Cat Bureau from the movie The Cat Returns.

The second area, Ghibli’s Large Warehouse, will be an indoor arena featuring shops, restaurants, an exhibition room, and a small theater. The area will feature a recreation of the sky garden from Laputa: Castle in the Sky, along with a reproduction of the film’s airship suspended from the ceiling. Ghibli’s Large Warehouse will also have a My Neighbor Totoro-inspired playground complete with Catbus. There will also be an interactive area featuring oversized objects so that visitors can experience the world of little Arrietty.

The third area, Dondoko Forest, will feature Satsuki and Mei’s house from My Neighbor Totoro. Miyazaki’s vision is a departure from traditional theme parks, seeking an immersive experience without relentless merchandising opportunities. The theme park will feature rides and attractions, but don’t expect massive rollercoasters. In keeping with Miyazaki tradition, the park will focus on the natural environment. Miyazaki himself insisted that no trees are to be cut down in the building of the park.

The final two sections, Valley of Witches and Mononoke’s Village, are expected to open in 2024. Mononoke’s Village will include a real-life recreation of Tatara-ba, the Irontown featured in Princess Mononoke.  Plans for Valley of Witches include a large scale replica of Howl’s Moving Castle.

The theme park is located in the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park, near Nagoya in Central Japan, and is a three hour train ride from Tokyo. The park is expected to see around one million visitors annually in the first few years, and an expected 1.8 million annually once the park is completed.

What do you think of the Studio Ghibli theme park? What films would you add and what rides would you like to see? Personally, I feel like the restaurants must be incredible – after all, the studio is famed for their food visuals.

And if they have the bath house from Spirited Away, I might consider uprooting my life and moving to Japan. It’s been a long few years, just let me live my No-Face fantasy.

(via TimeOut, image: Studio Ghibli)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.