(CNN) — Fans of “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” and other films from director Hayao Miyazaki of the legendary Studio Ghibli, will have a new destination to add to their travel bucket list later this year.
Ghibli Park, opening in November in Japan, will be a fever dream of a theme park for anyone who has ever watched Miyazaki’s beautiful and often surreal animated films and wanted to step into the worlds they build. The Ghibli canon is heavy on themes of nature, friendship, strong females, flying machines, destiny and bravery. Their aesthetic is naturalism meets steampunk, sprinkled with its own proprietary formula of magical realism.
Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse will house artifacts and exhibits from various films by the studio.
Until last week, news of the mythical Ghibli Park trickled instead of flowed, teased out in small, speculative doses in Japanese publications. It was unclear what impact the pandemic was having on the start date and what visitors would find when it opens.
The Valley of Witches area that will include recreatons from “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”
But even follow-up questions to the studio from CNN about Ghibli Park required translations to the studio’s press staff, and produced less details than we’d want. We’re as hungry for news as the No Face ghost in “Spirited Away.”
Here’s what we know
Some outlets have reported that Miyazaki insisted no trees be cut down for the park, but when asked to confirm or deny, the studio replied that “We haven’t heard that from Miyazaki.” They did say the Ghibli Park is being constructed on unused grounds within the larger Aichi Park.
When it opens in November, three of the five planned areas will be ready. The main one is Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, an indoor facility that will house artifacts and exhibits from films including the Robot Soldier from “Castle in the Sky,” the Cat Bus from “Totoro,” and another recreation out of the “The Secret World of Arrietty.”
At right, a rendering of the Park’s recreation of the antique shop from “Whisper of the Heart.”
A second area, “Hill of Youth,” features the antique shop from “Whisper of the Heart” and another recreation from “The Cat Returns.” And the third is Dondoko Forest with a full recreation of Satsuki and Mei’s house from “My Neighbor Totoro” and a Totoro-themed playground.
One of the two areas that will open later (“after 2023,” the studio’s press office said) is Mononoke Village, referencing “Princess Mononoke” and her adventure among large forest animal gods. An artist rendering shows kids playing on a massive spider. The other is the Valley of Witches that will include some parts from the trippy “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and the more sweet “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” about an earnest and hard-working young witch. The artist drawing shows a tea-cup ride decorated with Kiki’s cat Jiji.
Mononoke Village will invoke a world with large forest animal gods.
If you go to Ghibli Park, don’t expect a Catbus roller coaster, Kiki’s broomstick “Avatar”-style adventure or a Ponyo Under the Sea ride. “Take a stroll, feel the wind, and discover the wonders,” the studio’s site offers as an alternative. Think immersion and prompts for imagination rather than pyrotechnics and stomach-turning thrills.
What we don’t know
While you wait
Top photo: A recreation of Satsuki and Mei’s house from “My Neighbor Totoro.” ⓒ Studio Ghibli