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'Harry Potter' theme park set to open in Tokyo in 2023

Seibu Holdings and Warner Bros. to build on site of Toshimaen amusement facility

The Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo first opened in 1926. Warner Bros. will turn part of the site into a Harry Potter theme park, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to make the remainder into a large park. (Photo by Arisa Moriyama)

TOKYO -- Seibu Holdings plans to open a theme park featuring the popular movie franchise Harry Potter as early as spring 2023, Nikkei learned Monday.

The Japanese company is in talks with U.S. movie studio Warner Bros. and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to finalize the plan. The company will close its Toshimaen amusement park in stages after 2020 and build the Harry Potter park on the site.

Toshimaen is one of Tokyo's oldest amusement parks, having opened in 1926. Its swimming pool and attractions will be closed in stages, and Warner Bros. is considering borrowing part of the approximately 200,000 sq.-meter site owned by Seibu Holdings to build a Harry Potter theme park. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to purchase the remaining land and turn the area into a large park with a disaster prevention function.

It will be a theme park where visitors can tour movie sets, similar to the "Warner Bros. Studio Tour -- The Making of Harry Potter" in London. The new theme park will be different from Universal Studios in the U.S. and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, which have ride attractions.

USJ opened "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" in 2014. USJ had annual visitors of 14.3 million in 2018, according to a report by U.S. research companies Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM. The Harry Potter series of novels featuring a young wizard was first published in 1997. The translated version became a big hit in Japan in 1999.

While Tokyo Disney Resort and USJ are enjoying strong attendance, smaller amusement parks in Japan are facing an uphill battle. The annual number of visitors to Toshimaen gradually dropped to 1.12 million in fiscal 2018 after peaking at about 3.9 million in fiscal 1992.

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