Disney’s New Rival Park Surprises Guests, Opens First Attraction Eight Months Early

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(l-r) donald duck, mickey mouse, pluto, minnie mouse, and goofy with tokyo disneyland castle

Credit: Disney

Recently, Disney fans have become concerned about numerous price increases amid seemingly declining overall quality at Disney theme park properties in the United States.

Mickey and Minnie in front of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney May Stop Using the Terms “Prince” and “Princess”

Some Guests have posted stories online about the apparent lack of quality control in regard to various pieces of Disney Parks merchandise, including popular coffee mugs, while others have tirelessly complained about the company’s decision to get rid of free FastPasses in favor of paid Lightning Lanes and the increasingly controversial Genie+ platform.

And, all of this has come with ticket price increases at Disney Parks on both coasts. In fact, it is actually less expensive, at certain times of year, for California residents to visit Disneyland Paris than to vacation at their local Park, Disneyland Resort.

toy story mania tokyo disney
Credit: Disney

Related: Theme Park Officials Say Ride May Never Reopen After Boy Drowns To Death

Recently, Japan’s major upcoming theme park, Ghibli Park — owned by Japan’s mega-popular Studio Ghibli anime company — announced that its ticket prices will be significantly less expensive than anything Disney has to offer domestically or abroad, including at Studio Ghibli’s biggest rival, Tokyo Disney Resort. As one article pointed out:

For those who are weary of [Disney] ponying up higher prices on an annual basis, an excellent alternative is opening in November. Studio Ghibli, the Oscar award-winning Japanese animation studio often called “The Disney of Japan,” is slated to open its own long-anticipated theme park on November 1 right outside Nagoya in Aichi Commemorative Park in Nagakute, Japan.

studio ghibli theme park concept art
Credit: Studio Ghibli

Related: Guide to Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan

The theme park property, which is set to feature five lands — similar to Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando and Disneyland Park in Anaheim — will be anchored by a replica of Howl’s Moving Castle from the popular 2004 film of the same name.

The five sections of the Park are set to be the Springtime of Life Hill/Youth Hill, the Dondoko Forest Area — based on the iconic My Neighbor Totoro (1988) — the Ghibli Large Warehouse Area, the Mononoke’s Village Area from Princess Mononoke (1997), and the Witches’ Valley Area inspired by both Moving Castle and the ever-popular Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989).

Kiki's Delivery Service
Credit: Studio Ghibli

Related: Disney Character Hugs and Autographs Officially Return to Disney World

In a somewhat surprising move, Studio Ghibli has actually decided to open one attraction now, months ahead of the Park’s November 2022 opening date. Last month, the “elevator tower” entrance became available to Guests free of charge.

studio ghibli theme park springtime life hill
Credit: Studio Ghibli

Related: Streaming Wars: Netflix (Not Disney) Get Rights to Stream Studio Ghibli Films

An English translation of the following Tweet reads:

The “elevator tower”, which is one of the entrances to Ghibli Park, was unveiled. The elevator tower, which was designed based on the fantasy science world at the end of the 19th century, which became the model of the world of “Castle in the Sky”, can be used free of charge from today.

Related: “Magical” Tokyo Disneyland Attraction To Close For Refurbishment Next Year

An article about the opening shared some details about how many Guests are expected to visit Ghibli Park in the near future, as it begins its phased opening process later this year:

The staff projects that 1 million people annually will visit the first three areas to open, and then 1.8 million people annually will visit once the park is fully open a year later. To accommodate the flow of visitors, the surrounding area and roads are adding 1,500 more parking spaces and measures to control traffic.

studio ghibli theme park spirited away
Credit: Studio Ghibli

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Another report shared that, although Ghibli fans were surprised by the early opening, the “elevator tower’s operation commenced on March 23 as it’s part of the route to an ice-skating rink at the expo park.”

Do you plan to visit Ghibli Park?

Let the expert team at Academy Travel help you plan your next magical vacation to Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district OR any Disney destination worldwide!

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