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Studio Ghibli Theme Park to Open in November

The Japanese theme park, based on the works of the Miyazaki Hayao-led animation firm Studio Ghibli, has set Nov. 1, 2022, as the date for its official opening.

Having previously teased ‘Fall 2022’ as the park debut, Studio Ghibli announced the confirmed date in a simple tweet alongside an image of its Totoro character.

The park is being built within the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park, near Nagoya in Central Japan on a site that is 200 hectares (494 acres). That puts it about three hours from downtown Tokyo by train.

The project is a JPY34 billion ($295 million) joint venture involving Studio Ghibli, the government of Aichi Prefecture and the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper. Construction began in 2019. Ghibli is handling the creative side of the project.

The park will eventually have five themed areas. The section based on “My Neighbor Totoro” will be the first to open. Two more areas — one themed around “Princess Mononoke,” the tale of a girl raised by wolves in a forest, and another inspired by “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” — will open next year, local officials said on Thursday.

It has previously been reported that the final two sections will open by the end of March 2024. Visitor numbers are expected to total around one million in the early stages and hit 1.8 million annually when all sections are completed.

At the time of the ground-breaking ceremony in 2020, Studio Ghibli producer Suzuki Toshio jokingly told reporters about Miyazaki’s interference in the park project. “He can’t leave anything up to other people. He’s a meddlesome old man.” Miyazaki’s only son Goro Miyazaki “is working hard (on the park project), but (Miyazaki) is not the type to look on supportively from a distance,” Suzuki continued. “He starts in right away with ‘do this’ and ‘don’t do that’.”

Local media in Japan report that there will be rides, but not large-scale rollercoasters. Nature trails are favored instead, and Miyazaki has reportedly insisted that no trees be cut down.

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