Our dreams of traveling the worlds of Ghibli films will finally be realized with the opening of the Ghibli park in 2022! In a press release on April 25, Studio Ghibli unveiled a layout for the long-awaited theme park.

Last year, Studio Ghibli announced their plans to open a park starring our favorite feature films in Expo Park, Osaka. Originally, the studio planned to open the park in 2020, but now that date’s pushed back to 2022. Bummer! But don’t let the delay get you down. Like in the video game industry, it’s better to delay the launch date so the product is the best quality it can be (and finished)!

Fortunately, there’s some good news, too. The opening day might be a few years away, but we have a first glimpse of what the Ghibli park will look like! A Tweet from a Japanese news channel reveals concept art for the park’s design plans as well as a map.

A sketch of the plaza where the Cat Bus shop and other stores will be at the Ghibli Park.
An overview of the potential shopping plaza | Image: Anime News Network

5 Unique Areas Bring the Magic of Ghibli to Life

The map highlights five major portions of the park. The first area will feature a large main entrance with a gate inspired by HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE. The art also shows us an image of the antique shop from WHISPER OF THE HEART. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get to see the Baron come to life! Personally, I hope they build a replica of the clock Seiji’s grandfather repaired.

The art for the second area shows us a number of different shops and exhibits, all inspired by Hayao and Isao’s most famous works. Some of the shops seem inspired by the beloved SPIRITED AWAY. If you look closely, you can even see a “Cat Bus” storefront. Wonder what they’ll sell there! Next, we have a PRINCESS MONONOKE-inspired area showcasing exhibits based on both Irontown and Ashitaka’s home village. A replica of the giant boar demon sits in the middle of the concept art, but hopefully, we’ll get to see the great spirits from the film as well. Given their popularity, adding the cute little Kodama to this area would be a great touch.

This concept art features the village from Princess Mononoke.
Good thing this demon is just a replica! | Image: Twitter

The fourth area draws inspiration from the wizarding world of Ghibli. References to both HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE are present in its concept art. A KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE-inspired teacup ride takes center stage in the foreground of this area. A replica of the mobile home from HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE looms in the background. People walk up through the mouth, implying that we can go inside. Finally, we might catch a glimpse of the daily life of the mysterious heart-stealing wizard!

To the left, a Kiki-themed teacup ride is seen in front of a line of shops, and a replica of Howl's castle looms in the background.
Look closely at the girl riding the teacups — it’s a little Kiki! | Image: Twitter

The fifth and final area of the park makes use of the already existing replica of Satsuki and Mei’s house from MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO. No concept art for this area has been revealed yet. That said, given the concept art for the rest of the park, this area is bound to be imaginative and fun.

Ryuichi’s Kindness and the Task of the SCHOOL BABYSITTERS

Spirited Away to the Future Ghibli Park

The Ghibli park won’t open for another four years, but that news won’t keep fans down for long. The concept art is stunning and American and Japanese fans alike are buzzing with excitement; sharing pictures of Ghibli art on Twitter and posting the classic Futurama meme.

It’s hard not to share their enthusiasm. The worlds of Ghibli have enchanted audience members for years with delicious food, relatable characters, and intricate backgrounds. Knowing this studio, the theme park is bound to be crafted with just as much care and attention to detail as their beloved films. And with so much time left before the opening day, it’s easy to let your imagination run wild about the possibilities the park offers. Will there be a bakery featuring Ghibli-themed sweets like Jiji-shaped macarons? Or even better, a buffet filled with the gargantuan dishes from SPIRITED AWAY! Will they build a Kiki-themed broom ride, or maybe a runaway train designed to look like the dragon Haku? The possibilities are endless!

What attractions or displays do you hope to see at the future Ghibli theme park? Hoping for some references to your favorite Ghibli films? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Featured image courtesy of Twitter.

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