Japan: Toshimaen amusement park closes after 94 years; Harry Potter theme park to open in 2023 – travel


Potterheads, “accio” your wands and say “alohomora” to a brand-new Harry Potter theme park coming soon in Japan. It’s going to be ready by 2023 at a part of the area that was the Toshimaen amusement park until Monday, August 31.

Toshimaen amusement park closed its doors for the last time after being in business for more than nine decades (94 years to be precise), with part of the site set to make way for a Harry Potter theme park.

Toshimaen amusement park opened in 1926 in northern Tokyo, caught the imagination of locals such as Junko and Hikari Abe, a mother and daughter who work at the park and met their partners there.

SEE PHOTOS: Toshimaen amusement park in Japan closes, Harry Potter theme park to open soon

Junko, a 62-year-old park keeper who has worked intermittently at Toshimaen since the 1970s, said she had assumed it would be there till the end of her life.

Daughter Hikari, 30, started working at the park in 2015. She had hoped to take family photos there after getting married with her fiancée, whom she met there as well.

“It was a spot I had taken for granted because it had been there from the time I was born, so I can’t believe that it will be gone,” she told Reuters.

Other visitors remembered family visitors, school outings, and traditional “coming-of-age” celebrations they had at Toshimaen, which limited the number of people who were allowed to enter over the coronavirus crisis.

“It’s regrettable and sad, I can’t stop wishing for a delayed closure of the park or for it to survive,” said Akiyoshi Tomizawa, 54.

Tomizawa, who visited the park from the age of four, said he used to go swimming in the park with friends and take dates there as a teenager.

Part of the park’s charm lay in its variety of attractions, which included swimming pools (a doughnut-shaped one), eateries and roller coaster rides.

Yasuko Tagata, 56, recounted watching fireworks, which are a nighttime summer tradition in Japan, with friends from the park’s swimming pools.

“Toshimaen is a place where people grew up together,” she told Reuters.

The new Harry Potter theme park is expected to open in 2023, and will be Japan’s first.

Touted to be called the Warner Bros Studio Tour Tokyo — The Making of Harry Potter, this new venture will take a few cues from London’s Harry Potter attraction. There’ll be everything from costumes, props, exhibitions and special events at the theme park as well as a chance of a tour around the sets. You may want to keep your version of the Marauder’s Map ready too and “solemnly swear you’re upto no good.”

 

September 1 also marks back-to-school for all young wizards and witches at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, the classes are going online. WizardingWorld.com held a back-to-school celebration from Aug. 27-30, and Sept. 1 will see a Back to Hogwarts livestream on Facebook and Instagram.

— with Reuters inputs

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