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Studio Ghibli Just Dropped a Sneak Peek at Its Soon-to-Open Theme Park — and Yes, It Looks Magical

Prepare to get spirited away — Ghibli Park opens in November, and it's filled with IRL recreations of the Japanese animation house's beloved movies.
By Sarah Ward
September 16, 2022
By Sarah Ward
September 16, 2022

The new happiest place on earth is mere months away from opening, with Studio Ghibli's very own theme park welcoming in animation lovers when November 1 arrives. Long in the works, Ghibli Park has had animation lovers waiting to wander its 200-hectare expanse in Nagoya's Aichi Prefecture, around a three-hour train trip from Tokyo, since back in 2017. And wondering exactly how magical it will look for just as long, too.

The answer? Supremely enchanting; yes, getting spirited away will be easy here. Ghibli has been dropping early glimpses, even if its recent Hayao Miyazaki-directed cat train trailer was solely animated (but still wonderful). Now, it has just unveiled a treasure trove of new sneak peeks at the upcoming venue.

The park will open in phases, but the first won't be short on highlights, including what's been dubbed Ghibli's Great Warehouse — aka its main area. Think of it like a fair within the overall attraction, featuring a video exhibition room, three special exhibition rooms, plus shops and cafes all in one space.

Many movie lovers' first stop will be Orionza, a cinema that'll seat 170 patrons and screen ten Ghibli shorts — all of which have only previously been seen at the studio's existing Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, a city on the western outskirts Tokyo. The easy highlight: the 13-minute-long sequel to My Neighbour Totoro, which is an absolute delight, unsurprisingly.

Fancy entering one of Ghibli's films? The park also includes recreations of 13 famous scenes from the company's cinematic catalogue that you can step into, including becoming Spirited Away's Chihiro by sitting next to Kaonashi on a mysterious train by the sea. Or, another exhibition focuses on Ghibli's knack for drawing delicious-looking food, and is certain to make you hungry.

And, if you're curious how Ghibli's works — such as posters, videos, music and books — appear overseas, there's an exhibition about that as well.

Because you'll want souvenirs, the Ghibli's warehouse store will sell Ghibli goodies galore, including items specific to the park. Expect two things: to want to purchase everything, so much so that you'll contemplate whether it's worth getting another suitcase to take home with you; and plenty of company while you're browsing and buying.

For a bite or a drink, the Great Warehouse's cafe and milk stand will both take their cues The Wind Rises. One will sling sandwiches and pizzas, while the other focuses on sips to drink — and a sweet made of red bean paste between two pieces of castella, as seen in the movie.

Yes, it all truly does resemble the Japanese animation house's glorious frames in real life — as that aforementioned Studio Ghibli museum already does as well. Also slated to feature across the whole park: a life-sized version of Howl's Moving Castlethe antique shop from Whisper of the Heart, Kiki's home from Kiki's Delivery Service and a village area that pays tribute to Princess Mononoke.

The Aichi Prefecture Expo Park spot is already home to a replica of Satsuki and Mei's house from My Neighbour Totoro, and Totoro still features heavily in the expanded setup — with the site even initially described as having a My Neighbour Totoro focus.

Or, you can check out nods to the cat from Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns, buildings with design elements that take their cues from Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and a super-sized garden that'll make you feel like you're one of the tiny characters in Arrietty.

Expect more nods to Ghibli's various features to follow, recreating other aspects from its three-decade-old body of work (and possibly its most recent movie, Earwig and the Witch).

The animation house also released a new short video with added glimpses at the park, because there's no such thing as too many sneak peeks at something this entrancing

If you're now planning a Ghibli-centric holiday, Japan's changed its border rules in September to let overseas tourists enter the country without booking guided tours. At the time of writing, you do still need to be travelling on a package tour, however — through a travel agency, even if it just covers your flights and accommodation. Fingers crossed that changes soon.

Ghibli Park will open on November 1, 2022. For more information, head to the venue's website.

Images: © Studio Ghibli.

Published on September 16, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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