Hayao Miyazaki’s iconic Studio Ghibli, known for films like the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, will officially build a theme park in Japan.
Announced on Friday after years of rumors and vague promises, Ghibli will partner with both the government of Aichi Prefecture and the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper to build the park. Though Walt Disney Pictures once distributed the Ghibli films in the United States (the honor now goes to GKids), and Disney Parks continues to sell Ghibli merchandise in its Epcot resort, the theme park will not be affiliated with Disney’s Japanese location.
Producer Toshio Suzuki, Aichi governor Hideaki Omura and Chunichi CEO Uichiro Oshima announced details at a press conference in Tokyo, according to Variety. The park will be built in Aichi Commemorative Park, a location near Nagoya in central Japan. In 2005, the park was the site of a World’s Fair, for which Ghibli helped build a recreation of Satsuki and Mei’s house from My Neighbor Totoro.
The Ghibli park is scheduled to open in 2022. The studio will handle the creative side of the project, which will reportedly have five themed areas. One is confirmed to be based on 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle and another on 1998’s Princess Mononoke, with other Ghibli films serving as inspiration for the other areas. Goro Miyazaki (From Up on Poppy Hill) is working directly on the project, while his father, despite retiring in 2013, has his hands on the park.
“[Hayao Miyazaki] can’t leave anything up to other people. He’s a meddlesome old man,” Suzuki joked when asked about the legendary studio founder’s involvement in the project.
Hayao Miyazaki is currently working on the studio’s next film How Do You Live?, based on a popular novel by Yoshino Genzaburō of the same name. His post-retirement career has been filled with numerous short projects — including his first computer animated short film — with the park appearing to be new ground for the legendary animator.