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Ghibli Theme Park Previews 16-Meter-Tall Howl's Castle

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Theme park in Aichi Prefecture slated to open in fall 2022

The planned Ghibli Theme Park held a press conference on Wednesday, revealing more details and photos of images of the park. This includes images of the Howl's Moving Castle and the Princess Mononoke-inspired areas. A preview of the 16-meter-tall Howl's Castle is shown below:

You can also see an image of the area based on the Irontown settlement from Princess Mononoke, as well as Satsuki and Mei's house from My Neighbor Totoro:

New concept art for the Ghibli no Daisōko (Giant Ghibli Storehouse) area was also revealed.

The Ghibli no Daisōko, Seishun no Oka (Hill of Youth), and Dondoko Mori (Dondoko Forest) areas of the Ghibli theme park are slated to open in fall 2022, followed by the Mononoke no Sato Area (Mononoke Village, inspired by Princess Mononoke) and Majo no Tani Area (Witch Valley, inspired by Kiki's Delivery Service) about one year later. The Dondoko Mori Area will feature a recreation of the shrine and path from My Neighbor Totoro.

Work on the designs began in 2019. A cornerstone-laying ceremony was held in July last year. Formal construction on the Mononoke no Sato and Majo no Tani areas will begin this year. Construction will continue for two or three years.

The staff projects that 1 million people annually will visit the first three areas to open, and then 1.8 million people annually will visit once the park is fully open a year later. To accommodate the flow of visitors, the surrounding area and roads are adding 1,500 more parking spaces and measures to control traffic.

Aichi Prefecture has budgeted 31 billion yen (about US$280 million) for construction, in addition to 3 billion yen (about US$30 million) for the design and planning process.

Aichi Prefecture agreed in May 2017 to establish the park, and confirmation documents were finalized this past March. The project's planners then revealed the basic design plans in April 2018. The park was initially planned to open in 2020. Studio Ghibli and the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper jointly established the Ghibli Park, Inc. company that will be responsible for the management and operation of the park.

Aichi Prefecture and Studio Ghibli are collaborating to open the park in a 200-hectare area in Aichi's Expo Park, also known as Moricoro Park, the site of the 2005 World's Fair. The park already has "Satsuki and Mei's House," a replica of main characters' house from the My Neighbor Totoro anime film. The house was the site of a Studio Ghibli exhibition in both 2008 and 2015.

The prefecture is aiming to make the park an attraction for both foreign and domestic tourists. Both Studio Ghibli and the prefecture are funding the operating company that will be in charge of the park.

While the park is being developed, the construction will not cause damage to the park through felling trees or other methods.

Studio Ghibli also maintains The Ghibli Museum, located in Mitaka in west Tokyo. The Ghibli Museum has interactive exhibits and replicas of iconic Ghibli creations, and it offers a rotating screening of different Ghibli-animated shorts. The museum closed in February last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in collaboration with Mitaka City. It then remained closed later in the year for facility maintenance that it normally cannot perform during the year. It will reopen in September.

Studio Ghibli previously revealed concept illustrations for various areas of the park, as well as the layout of the park.

Sources: Cinema Today, Aichi governor Hideaki Ōmura's official Twitter account

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