Unlike the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, which houses artwork and merchandise from the animation studio’s famous films in one building, the new theme park will be set across over 200 hectares of land, at Aichi Prefecture’s EXPO Park, which was the site of the 2005 World EXPO.
After teasing us with some initial concept art, the Aichi Prefectural Government has now unveiled more detailed plans for the new theme park’s layout and features, with five zones centering around some of Studio Ghibli’s most beloved movies.
Let's break it down area by area.
1. “Seishun no Oka Area” (“Youth Hill Area”)
This first zone features a giant steampunk elevator inspired by Howl’s Moving Castle, which takes visitors out onto a raised viewing platform and down into the park itself. A short stroll from here will lead visitors to a full-sized replica of the Chikyuya antique shop from Whisper of the Heart.
2. “Ghibli Dai Soko Area” (“Ghibli Large Warehouse Area”)
A lot of Japanese and Western fusion-style buildings will be located here, in an area with a whimsical atmosphere where visitors can enjoy an exhibition room, video exhibition room, playing areas, shops and cafés.
3. “Dondoko Mori Area” (“Dondoko Forest Area”)
This zone will showcase the already existing real-life version of Mei and Satsuki’s house from My Neighbor Totoro. The surrounding “Showa-era landscape” will replicate Totoro’s rural hometown from the film, with the park planning to arrange walking tours and paths in the forest area, similar to their setup in Totoro’s Forest in Saitama.
4. “Mononoke no Sato Area” (“Mononoke’s Village Area”)
This zone will be dedicated to Princess Mononoke, with a rural Japanese landscape evoking the world of Ashitaka’s Emishi tribe and the Tatara “Irontown” settlement from the film. No news yet on whether the upcoming Princess Mononoke kabuki play will be performed here in the future, but visitors will be able to experience and learn about traditional charcoal grilling in the traditional hut on site.
5. “Majo no Tani Area” ("Witches’ Valley Area")
Visitors will fall in love with the Witches’ Valley zone, which is said to have the same “Northern European feel” seen in films like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle. Restaurants and rest areas will be set up in this area, inspired by the wasteland of Howl’s Moving Castle and the beautiful Okino residence from Kiki’s Delivery Service.
According to the Aichi Prefectural Government, the park is currently finalizing designs and financial details, with construction for the first three areas set to begin in 2020 and the final two areas in 2021. They anticipate the development will then move forward at a steady pace, with plans to open the first three areas in the autumn of 2022, and Mononoke’s Village and the Witches’ Valley opening a year later, in 2023.
Source: Aichi Prefectural Government via Net Lab
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