• KYODO, AFP-JIJI, JIJI

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The company that owns a 94-year-old amusement park in Tokyo that is closing at the end of August said Tuesday it has clinched a contract for part of the site to be turned into a new theme park based on the "Harry Potter" films, slated to open in the first half of 2023.

With an area of approximately 30,000 square meters, the theme park will display film sets, costumes and props used in the fantasy movies based on the popular novels of the same name by British author J.K. Rowling.

Seibu Railway Co., which reached the deal with companies including Itochu Corp. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., said the amusement park will be developed on part of the Toshimaen site located in Tokyo's Nerima Ward.

Ann Sarnoff, chairwoman and CEO of Warner Bros., said in a news release that the theme park will offer "fans of all ages a unique way to get closer to the films" and that the company is "looking forward to creating something very special."

It will be the second such park in the world, after The Making of Harry Potter exhibition at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, which opened in 2012 and has welcomed over 1.4 million visitors, according to Seibu Railway.

The Studio Tour Tokyo will see visitors take a walking tour through Hogwarts and Diagon Alley.

There are also Harry Potter theme parks created by Universal Studios in Orlando and Hollywood in the United States, and Osaka.

The railway operator has signed a deal to sell a large part of the 22-hectare site to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which plans to build a park that will also be used as an emergency shelter space in the event of a disaster.

Toshimaen, which opened in 1926, is scheduled to close on Aug. 31, with the exception of a hot-spring spa. It is one of the largest amusement parks in Tokyo with over 30 rides and attractions, including a wooden carousel that was made in Germany in 1907 and brought to the park in 1971.

"Harry Potter" grew into a global phenomenon from the books about the boy wizard, with seven volumes published between 1997 and 2007.

Itochu will be in charge of constructing the facility, which is slated to be owned by Fuyo General Lease and operated by Warner Bros. Seibu Railway is considering revamping Toshimaen Station, which will be the closest train station to the facility.

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