Adults who are still into Disney to the point where they voluntarily visit Anaheim without even a niece in tow, or God forbid, get hitched in front of Cinderella’s castle, get a deserved bad rep. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to visit a theme park. Now, an actually cool one is opening. Studio Ghibli, the famed Japanese animation studio that brought us hand-drawn treasures like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving is opening a theme park in Japan on November 1.
Now that the opening is just days away, more details are being released about the park. Three of the five planned areas will be open on November 1: The Hill of Youth, Ghibli’s Large Warehouse and the Dondoko Forest. Mononoke’s Village will open in the fall of 2023 and the Valley of Witches in March 2024, so plan your trip accordingly.
There was already a recreation of the house from My Neighbor Totoro on site, which was built for the fair, which the Twitter account shared photos of, along with photos of brightly-colored mosaic tiles to construct the antique shops from Whisper of the Heart.
According to France 24, the My Neighbor Totoro house will be the first section of the Ghibli Park to open this year. "Visitors will be able to go inside a Totoro-like statue built at the back of the house," a Japanese official said.
Documents show the park will cost a total of 34 billion yen, or about $300 million to build. But I don’t think anyone is worried about a return on investment: people really, really love Studio Ghibli and the way its surreal characters and gorgeous landscapes touch our souls. There’s already a wildly popular Ghibli Museum on the outskirts of Tokyo, which has a replica of the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro and usually sells out immediately after tickets are released.
Studio Ghibli is clearly aware of the emotional hold it has on its audience and the theme park is just the latest gift they’re giving us. Late last year, Hayao Miyazaki announced he is pausing his retirement to return to Studio Ghibli to make one last film. He’ll be bringing his favorite childhood book How Do You Live to life.