Studio Ghibli to open ‘Totoro’ theme park in Japan

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My Neighbour TotoroThe Ghibli classic follows the tale of playful forest spirits, notably the cuddly Totoro

Japanese animation giant Studio Ghibli has unveiled plans for a theme park to open in 2020.

The 200-hectare site will be built in Nagoya city, in Aichi prefecture, said Governor Hideaki Omura on Thursday at a press conference.

The park will be based on the popular film My Neighbor Totoro, embodying the movie’s theme of “respecting and embracing nature”.

The studio’s feature films are loved by many and critically-acclaimed.

My Neighbor Totoro was released in 1988 and tells the story of two young sisters who settle into an old country house while waiting for their mother to recover from an illness.

During their adventures, they encounter and befriend playful forest spirits, most notably the massive cuddly creature known as Totoro.

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The site of the park, previously the home of the 2005 World Expo, currently has a life-size replica of the house from the film.

Co-founder of Studio Ghibli and producer Toshio Suzuki who was also at the announcement, said the attraction will be “set in the world of Totoro”. There will not be any amusement park rides.

“Construction will be planned around existing clearings to avoid felling trees,” Governor Omura said.

Studio GhibliOften called Japan’s answer to Disney, Studio Ghibli has made animated movies for almost 30 years

Ghibli fans around the world reacted to the news of the upcoming park.

“Wow literally reading [about] a Studio Ghibli theme park and I started crying! Not joking. This makes me so happy,” wrote a US fan on Twitter.

Notably, there was much excitement from adult Ghibli fans who spoke about wanting to take their children with them to the attraction.

“I think our kids might be able to handle the trip by 2020,” Charles Tran said to his wife on Facebook.

“Time to get working on raising funds for the kids,” wrote James McGlone from Perth.

But others parents just wanted to go enjoy the experience themselves.

“Leave the boys at home, we’re heading to Japan in 2020 for the Summer Olympics and this,” said Paul Newman to his wife Anita on Facebook.

“It isn’t just children who want to ride the Cat Bus! This makes adults excited,” said Maryam Lee.

The proposed park would not be the only Studio Ghibli attraction in Japan. It currently has a museum in Tokyo and many fans visit a bathhouse in Kyoto city which was the inspiration for the Oscar-winning anime Spirited Away.

This year, legendary founder Hayao Miyazaki came out of retirement and announced plans to direct a new movie.

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