Tokyo mayor, Yuriko Koike subsequently told reporters that “negotiations are underway,” but declined to offer details, including the identity of the negotiating partners. “We are not likely to be commenting,” a Warner Bros. spokesman told Variety.
The reported plan is to shutter the Toshimaen park, which has been a Tokyo institution since 1926, in stages, starting this year. In its place will rise a new Harry Potter park tentatively set to open in 2023. It will have studio sets that visitors can tour, but not rides, similar to Warner’s Harry Potter attraction in London.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo government will reportedly use most of Toshimaen’s land as a public park that can also double as an evacuation site in the event of a major disaster.
Seibu, Warner and the Tokyo government have yet to publicly clarify the park plans, including a sale price. It is reported that the 200,000 sq.-meter Toshimaen site has a book value of $80 million. A formal announcement is expected sometime this spring.
Globally, there are no theme parks that are wholly dedicated to the Harry Potter phenomenon. But rights have been licensed to Universal for use in parks including its Islands of Adventure site in Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood, where The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section opened in 2016.
Some $413 million (JPY45 billion) was spend adding Harry Potter facilities to Universal Studios Japan, which is located in Osaka, 315 miles (506 km) to the West of Tokyo. These opened in 2014.
The Toshimaen Park was once packed in the summer with kids and their families enjoying the swimming pools, rides and other attractions. But from a peak of 3.9 million admissions in 1992, visitors have steadily declined, falling to 1.12 million admissions in 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available.