There are a lot of different things to love about the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, but one thing almost everyone who’s visited agrees on is that the atmosphere is nothing short of lovely. That’s thanks in no small part to three key policies: tickets are only sold by prior reservation, tickets have staggered entry times throughout the day, and total daily attendance is capped, all so you won’t find long lines at the gate or crushing crowds once you’re inside.
So it felt like a forgone conclusion when Ghibli Park, the first-ever theme park dedicated to Studio Ghibli’s animated works, said it was going to have similar policies when it opens. What is a surprise, though, is just how low Ghibli Park’s attendance caps are going to be.
Eventually, Ghibli Park is going to be comprised of five areas. Three of those will open on November 1, Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, Dondoko Forest (the "My Neighbor Totoro"-themed area), and Hill of Youth (taking inspiration from "Whisper of the Heart"). The areas are, in terms of admission management, independent from each other, as each requires its own ticket and has its own daily guest number limit, and Ghibli Park management has now announced what those limits are going to be. With the highest attendance cap is Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, which will admit 4,000 visitors on weekends. To clarify, that’s not the amount of guests who will be allowed into the area for each staggered entry time, that’s the total number of guests who will be admitted for the entire day, and that number drops to 3,500 on weekdays.
Hill of Youth’s capacity will be considerably smaller, at 900 people per day on weekends and 780 during the week. And while it’s hard to imagine someone going to a Ghibli theme park without being a very big Totoro fan, Dondoko Forest will have the lowest attendance cap of the three areas, admitting 750 people daily on weekends and only 650 on weekdays.
Weekday attendance caps will be raised during the Japanese school system’s extended breaks, such as summer vacation, to weekend levels, though.
Aside from their lowness, the uneven nature of the attendance limits presents an itinerary planning challenge. No more than 750 people a day will be able to see all three areas on the same day, but more than five times that many will be allowed into the Grand Warehouse, so there are going to be a lot of people who’ll need to come back on a second, if not a third, day if they want to see everything. While multi-day visits are common and popular for some amusement parks, such as Disney’s various resorts, Ghibli Park’s individual areas don’t seem to be being built on the scale someone could spend an entire second day just checking out, say, the Hill of Youth if they couldn’t get a ticket for it on their first day at the park.
On the other hand, Ghibli Park is obviously aiming for a quainter, more introspective atmosphere than the exciting bombast of more conventional theme parks, which would be impossible to achieve without very strict attendance limits, given how large the studio’s fanbase is in Japan. One could actually even make the argument that a desire to see and do everything would run contrary to the sort of tranquil harmony Ghibli instills in so many of its anime, and that by removing that option for some 3,000 guests a day they’ll actually be improving the experience for everyone by forcing them to slow down and leaving part of the park to their imagination (plus there’s still a no-ticket-required area in the Ghibli Park plans).
In addition, Ghibli Park has announced that its very first batch of tickets, for guests visiting in November, will be going on sale August 10 through online ticketing service Boo-Woo Ticket. If demand exceeds supply, a random lottery will determine which applicants can purchase tickets. Should there still be November tickets left over on September 10, they’ll then go on-sale on a first-come, first-served basis through Boo-Woo and Loppi ticketing kiosks inside Lawson and Mini Stop convenience stores. Given the attendance caps, though, it’s probably best not to count on any still being unsold on September 10, so the August 10 pre-sale page can be found here.
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