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Satsuki And Mei's House to Re-Open

posted on 2006-02-22 11:49 EST
The Aichi prefecture has announced that it will re-open Satsuki and Mei's house, created for Aichi World Expo 2005, next July.

On February 15th, Aichi Prefecture announced that Satsuki and Mei's House, one of the most popular exhibits of last year's Aichi World Expo 2005, will reopen this July as part of the “Ai – World Fair Memorial Park” (nicknamed “Morikoro Park”) scheduled to open on the site of last year's World Expo.

The prefecture has appropriated 3.5 billion yen in construction and maintenance costs for the park in the 2006 budget. Aside from Satsuki and Mei's House, a giant Ferris Wheel will reopen and plans are also underway to transform the former guest house into an exhibition hall by March of next year.

Satsuki and Mei's House is a recreation of the 1950's Showa-era home that the main characters of popular anime “My Neighbor Totoro” live in. The prefecture will operate the attraction for 3 to 5 years and admission fees will be charged. Adult ticket prices will be 500 yen, while middle-school students and younger children will be able to get in for 250 yen.

Satsuki and Mei's House was so popular that its small size lead to major ticket reservation headaches for Ghibli and the Expo organizers.

Due to the small size and fine detail of the house, it was only able to accommodate 800 visitors per day. The visitors were allowed into the house in small groups on a tight schedule. Most other pavilions at Aichi were able to accommodate 3000 or more visitors, however few were any where near as popular as Satsuki and Mei's House.

In order to control the flow of visitors to the house, Ghibli decided to distribute the tickets via LAWSON convenience stores, the same method that tickets to Ghibli's museum are reserved. There was no charge to reserve tickets, visitors only needed to pay the regular Expo admittance fee.

Unfortunately, due to the limited duration of the pavilion (it was open to the public for the duration of the Aichi Expo, 6 months from March to September 2005), there had been significantly more demand for the tickets than availability and ticket scalpers turned to online auction sites such as Yahoo! Auctions to sell the tickets at significantly inflated prices.

When tickets went on sale on March 1st, the tickets were sold out within 5 hours. Approximately 240,000 people attempted to make reservations for the 30,000 tickets available, and approximately 500 of those tickets appeared on Yahoo! Despite requests from Ghibli, Yahoo! refused to remove the auctions stating that they were not against the law. Matters took a turn for the worse on April 1st when over 600,000 requests for tickets were made and the reservation system froze at 10am. When the system came back online it was found that all tickets had already been sold.

Before the end of April, Studio Ghibli and Aichi Expo decided to abandon the ticket reservation system and instead use a postcard based lotto system to award tickets. Interested visitors had to send in a request via postcard, which must include their Expo ticket number. Vouchers to visit Satsuki and Mei's home were awarded randomly.

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