Move over Universal Studios Japan – Nerima is getting an official Harry Potter theme park to replace the Toshimaen amusement park
Looks like the Universal Studios in Osaka will no longer be the only place for Japan’s Potterheads to visit the magical Wizarding World. On June 12, Kyodo News (Japanese only) reported that the Seibu Railway company officially announced it would close the 94-year-old amusement park Toshimaen in Nerima to make way for a new Harry Potter theme park. Toshimaen will close on August 31 and construction for the new theme park will commence with an expected completion date in the first half of 2023.
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese only) also reported back in February that Warner Bros. will be renting a portion of the site owned by Seibu Holdings (the parent company of Seibu Railway) while the Tokyo government will purchase the remaining area. The planned Harry Potter attraction will apparently resemble the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London where visitors can view production sets, get up-close with props like wands and potions, and meander down the shopping street of Diagon Alley. However, the new park will not have rides like the ones at Universal Studios Japan.
As for the section to be managed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the aforementioned Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese only) report states that the site will be used for disaster prevention purposes and could feature an evacuation facility in the case of earthquakes or other emergency situations. Talks of the site being used as an evacuation base began after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, but lapsed into a standstill until Warner Bros. joined negotiations last year.
Toshimaen, which has been in operation since 1926, is one of the oldest amusement parks in Tokyo. It consists of a water park, a variety of rides and a few petting zoos. The park’s closure will come as bittersweet news to those who cherish childhood memories of visits to the 22-hectare site, but the new developments will no doubt excite the new generation of Harry Potter fans.