Studio Ghibli, the renowned Japanese animation studio responsible for landmark films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, has enjoyed massive global success over the past several decades. The studio’s very own Ghibli Museum (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館), located in Mitaka (三鷹), Tokyo, attracts visitors from around the world. Its limited tickets sell out regularly months in advance (to which I can personally attest). So, after Studio Ghibli came to an agreement with the Aichi Prefecture on May 31st, 2017, it came as no surprise when they announced that they would be working on a Studio Ghibli-themed amusement park called—you guessed it—Ghibli Park. Since then, there have been numerous updates regarding the new park. We’re here to round up all the latest information for you!
What is Ghibli Park?
Studio Ghibli was, is, and continues to be a cultural phenomenon, and Ghibli Park is an extension of this phenomenon. Much like Nintendo’s plans to open Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan in late 2021, this theme park aims to build on the studio’s decades of famed works and rich history to attract fans both domestically and abroad. However, unlike many other amusement parks, this one is located inside a public park, namely the Moricoro Park (officially the Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park / 愛・地球博記念公園). It will also strive to protect the existing public park experience while introducing theme park elements.
Ghibli Park is set to be split into five distinct areas: the Youth Hill Area (青春の丘エリア), the Big Ghibli Storehouse Area (ジブリの大倉庫エリア), the Mononoke Village Area (もののけの里エリア), the Witch Valley Area (魔女の谷エリア), and the Dondoko Forest Area (どんどこ森エリア).
The Youth Hill Area (青春の丘エリア)
Located in the northern section of Moricoro Park, the Youth Hill area will welcome visitors into the world of Ghibli. The elevator here will be modeled after the Howl’s Moving Castle-esque 19th-century steampunk theme. This area will also feature a 1990s Japanese residential district-inspired area featuring Whisper of the Heart’s antique shop, and The Cat Returns “Cat Bureau.”
The Big Ghibli Storehouse Area (ジブリの大倉庫エリア)
The Big Ghibli Storehouse Area is an indoor area that will replace the heated swimming pool that closed in 2018. There will be permanent and event-based exhibit rooms, a 170-seat theater, a children’s play area, and an area based on the mysterious town from Spirited Away. It would be safe to expect something akin to the exhibits found at the present Ghibli Museum.
The Mononoke Village Area (もののけの里エリア)
The plans for the Mononoke Village Area is based on the Irontown building from Princess Mononoke. There are also plans to display large statues based on the film’s Demons (Tatari Gami), Okkoto (Boar God), and other characters. (The famous robot statue from Castle in the Sky located on the roof of the Ghibli Museum is likely a good indicator of what to expect).
The Witch Valley Area (魔女の谷エリア)
The Witch Valley Area will be constructed in unused space near the public park’s large, open lawn, and based on Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Expect to find recreations of Howl’s titular moving castle, Kiki’s parents’ house, and a host of recreational spots, rest areas, and restaurants.
The studio has unveiled concept drawings of the 16-meter Howl’s “Moving Castle,” with construction planned to start in early 2021.
The Dondoko Forest Area (どんどこ森エリア)
The name of this area comes from the “Dondoko Odori” dance performed by Satsuki, Mei, and Totoro in a famous scene from My Neighbor Totoro. Also, much like the film, it focuses heavily on the theme of nature. Dondoko Forest’s reception area will be based on the 1950s rural Japanese home featured in the movie (a realistic portrayal of which, complete with a traditional kitchen and bathroom, has existed as a popular tourist spot in the public park since 2005)
How Much Will Ghibli Park Tickets Cost?
As of writing, the price of entry has not been officially announced, but admission to the Moricoro Park that will house the Ghibli Park is currently free. There are also no plans to have as many rides or attractions as other popular Japanese amusement parks such as Universal Studios Japan or Tokyo Disneyland. Both of these parks can cost well above ¥7,000 per day for adults, so it is reasonable to assume it will not be as expensive.
For reference, tickets for the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka cost ¥1,000 per person, and the My Neighbor Totoro exhibit “Satsuki and Mei’s House” (サツキとメイの家) costs ¥520 for adults and ¥250 for children.
When Will the Ghibli Park Open?
The Youth Hill, Big Ghibli Storehouse, and Dondoko Forest areas are set to open in the Fall of 2022. The remaining Mononoke Village and Witch Valley areas are set to open the following year.
Despite concerns of delays due to COVID-19, construction officially began on the Ghibli Park’s first three areas on July 28th, 2020. Studio Ghibli chairman, Kiyofumi Nakajima, was in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony, and excitedly announced that they were no longer in the blueprint phase. So, work seems to be proceeding on schedule.
How Can I Get More Info?
We will do our best to update you on any significant changes regarding the park here on Voyapon. You can also find all of Studio Ghibli’s official announcements in Japanese from their website and information regarding the Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park and construction plans from that park’s website, also in Japanese.
Access to Ghibli Park
Ghibli Park will be located inside Aichi Prefecture’s Moricoro Park, known officially as Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park (愛・地球博記念公園, Aichikyūhaku-kinen-kōen), just east of Nagoya (名古屋).
Train access: The park is accessible via the Linimo magnetic levitation train (リニモ, Rinimo) at the Aichikyūhaku-kinen-kōen (Expo Memorial Park) Station.
Travel time by train is less than 3 hours from Tokyo Station, just over 2 hours from Osaka Station, and less than 2 hours from Kyoto Station (via a combination of bullet train, standard train, and Linimo). About one minute’s walk from the Aichikyūhaku-kinen-kōen (Expo Memorial Park) Station (愛・地球博記念公園駅).
Bus access: The park is also accessible via Meitetsu bus at the Aichikyūhaku-kinen-kōen Station bus stop. The park is then about one minute’s from the bus stop.
Car access: There are currently three parking lots available for private vehicles, should you have access to a car during your visit.