LEGO Disney 43222 The Disney Castle: new and improved? [Review]

When it comes to Disney’s theme parks, there’s nothing more iconic than the fairytale castle that sits at the center of each magical land. In 2016 LEGO released its biggest Disney set ever, 71040 Disney Castle, which portrayed Cinderella’s white and dark blue castle that sits at the heart of Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. But in 2020 Disney repainted the castle to celebrate the park’s 50th anniversary (or 70th anniversary of the release of Cinderella, depending on which Disney source you reference), updating the fairytale fixture with peach-colored walls, darker stonework, and more gold accents. LEGO retired the 2016 castle last year, but won’t leave Disney fans without a flagship set for long, as they’re now releasing a new version with an updated design and colors that match the real-world landmark. 43222 The Disney Castle has 4,837 pieces (about 750 more than the original) and eight minifigures. It will retail for US $399.99 | CAN $519.99 | UK £344.99 and will release globally on July 4th, 2023.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

Let’s dive in and see how this updated castle fares compared to the original.

The box and contents

The new Disney Castle gets the black box, 18+ treatment that signifies its target audience of adults with disposable income. It also features the Disney 100 logo at the top right, which it shares with most other Disney sets released this year such as 43227 Disney Villain Icons.

About half of the bags are contained in an inner box, though they’re sadly not sorted by bag number—something LEGO has been frustratingly inconsistent about—so you’ll need to dump out all the bags to get started. There are 38 bags across 25 numbered sections, plus one unnumbered bag of large elements. Some newer sets we’ve opened have shifted to using unique bag numbers for every bag; that is, instead of having three bags labeled “1” like this set, they would be numbered 1, 2, and 3, respectively, and the numbers would simply run higher for the whole set. This is something more sets should adopt, especially when there are as many bags as this set has because it’s not always clear if any given number has more than one bag.

And speaking of confusing numbering, there are three seemingly identical instruction manuals that have no outward indication of their order. Two of the manuals are for the large stonework bottom floor, while the third builds the light nougat keep on the upper floors. There are relatively few stickers in the set, with just 10 spread across two sticker sheets.

As usual for a flagship adult-focused set, the manual has a bit of introduction to the set and callouts for all the Disney film references contained within its rooms: according to the manual, there are 14 films referenced.

The set’s 4,837 pieces don’t feature any wholly new element molds beyond a few of the princesses’ hairpieces, but there are lots of recolors and a few new prints. The most obvious new additions are a huge swath of elements in light nougat. Some of these have appeared before, but many of them are new to this set, and you’ll get a heaping helping of them: 471 light nougat pieces in total, excluding minifigure elements.

Of particular note is the 1×2 profile brick, which appears in light nougat for the first time. Even better, it also appears in sand blue in this set for the first time. You’ll get 57 of the light-nougat ones and 88 sand blue.

After the profile bricks, my next favorite recolor in this set is one that may not seem quite as exciting at first glance. The set contains loads of pearl gold elements (a favorite color of mine) but it’s the 1×2 plates that piqued my interest because LEGO has been oddly reticent to release new basic elements in pearl gold. Until now, the only plates available in that color were the 1×1 plate and the 2×2 plate, so this addition ups the pearl gold plates palette by 50 percent. This recolor first appeared in the 43227 Disney Villain Icons set that released this June, but you’ll get a whopping 157 of them here if you can bear to part it out.

I also love the 1x6x5 light nougat panel with the decorative print that adorns the balcony above the gate. It’s a subtly different print from the one in the previous castle. As in that older set, you’ll get just a single one.

One final recolor worth noting is the 2×3 plate with 1 x 1 Cutout, which appears here in light bluish grey for the first time. It’s not a particularly sexy part but it’s a useful color for it nonetheless.

Finally, there are a few new prints in the set. The arrowslits, or loopholes, in the castle’s outer walls, are printed 1×3 tiles, and you’ll get 10 of them. They seem generic enough to find uses outside of Disney-themed creations. I would have loved to see a brick-built solution for the arrowslits, but the ones on the real castle in Disneyworld are so small that this is definitely the most accurate solution. The older Disney Castle set didn’t bother with them at all.

The other new prints are Cinderella’s slipper, a sketch of Mickey Mouse from Steamboat Willie, and the coat of arms from the gatehouse.

The build

The new Disney Castle has a much larger footprint than the old set, as well as being much more colorful with green grass and blue water. The basic structure is a Technic frame, and the result is quite sturdy; with the help of the manual’s guidance on lifting the set, I’ve had no issues moving the finished model around.

The bottom floor contains the silver sticker portraits of four Disney princesses on angled interior walls. The backs of these walls will be hidden by the sand-blue exterior walls that will come later. The central dance floor of Cinderella’s castle contains the set’s one true play feature, a simple spinning floor using the large studded gears. The original castle features just the three central arched segments, leaving the outer arches unfinished, giving you a good sense of the size increase for the new castle.

The front gate comes next. Overall it’s quite similar to the previous castle, but this time around gets a few more details as well as dark blue curtains.

One of my favorite build details is the chandelier in the ballroom, a huge upgrade from the original castle’s. It’s a completely different design that incorporates the candle flame elements, which didn’t exist yet in 2016, and it looks so much better. The chandelier is installed as part of the bottom floor roof, which is permanently attached. The removable light nougat keep has its own floor that sits on a series of tiles and jumpers.

The two angled sand blue walls are built as sub-assemblies and then attached to the main structure as a unit. I was surprised at how easily they slip into place, as I typically expect a bit of finagling to align things like this.

The tops of the round towers have a neat little technique for making the lower sections of the crenelated turrets, one of the areas that are virtually identical to the original castle, marginally upgraded with new elements like the 3×3 quarter circle tiles. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The turret roofs are considerably changed, however.

Around the right side of the castle, we get to one of the biggest changes from the original castle, the square tower. The original castle cut off just to the right of the center turret on the wall, so the addition of the square tower at the end is a big part of why this castle design is larger. It also helps give the castle part of its pleasing asymmetry.

With the foundation floor done, it’s time to move to the light-nougat upper floors. Each room in the castle holds a scene or reference to a Disney animated movie. I won’t spoil all of them here (the manual does a good enough job of that), but there is plenty to take in. They’re all small builds and mostly quite simple, but with enough fun details to keep you interested, such as the banquet table with brown frogs for legs.

One of the best details is Sleeping Beauty’s spinning wheel in one of the middle floors, which sits in front of a turning wall. The spinning wheel is a delightful minibuild that’s much more intricate (and closer to minifigure scale) than the one in the old set. The backside of the hidden door conceals Maleficent’s green flames.

The upper floors are constructed in two sub-assemblies: the bottom two floors, and the tall, spindly tower. I was initially worried when I began building the lower portion because the plates that make up the base have quite a pronounced upward bend to them in the early steps—a known issue when layering lots of plates. However, I was pleased that by the time I finished this section, everything aligned properly.

The only thing left to construct at this point is the fireworks, which are identical. They attach quite sturdily via clear rods, and they bring a huge amount of “Disney magic” to the look (after all, even beyond the iconic Disney film intro, Disney is rumored to be the single largest consumer of fireworks in the United States thanks to their nightly shows).

The completed model

Once complete, the new Disney Castle stands 31.5 inches (80cm) tall, a few inches taller than the old version. The new color scheme is quite eye-catching—the sand blue base with blue roofs and gold accents is simply stunning. I’m a bit lukewarm on the light nougat upper section, but there’s no denying it gives the castle a whimsical, fairytale aesthetic, which is exactly what you’d want in a Disney castle. And it does match the real paint job quite well.

The full castle is assembled with three stackable sections, making it much easier to move.

The back of the castle is open, with each of the rooms having those small references to Disney animated movies (they’re more akin to Easter eggs, except most of them aren’t hidden). I would have loved to see a bit more detail, particularly tiled floors in all the rooms. There’s plenty to look at here, but it still feels a bit unfinished.

Comparison to the 2016 Disney Castle (71040)

I’ve made a lot of references to the 2016 Disney Castle in this write-up, so let’s actually pull it out and see how it stacks up. First and foremost, the new castle is just a little bit bigger in every dimension. There are a lot of little pieces here and there that are the same, but it’s clear that was a ground-up redesign and not simply adjusting the colors and a few details. There are a few details where I prefer the original, like the design of the interior columns and the inclusion of knight statues, which are absent in the new version.

The minifigures

The original set came with Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, and Tinkerbell (plus a few statues). The new version ups the minifigures with four couples, all Disney princesses with their princes. All of these except Princess Tiana are first-time appearances in minifigure form, though most of them have been available as minidolls previously.

First up are two of the classic Disney couples: Snow White and Prince Florian, and Cinderella and Prince Charming. All four have double-sided heads with alternate expressions, as well as completely new prints throughout. Cinderella’s hairpiece is a new mold.

The other two couples hail from the more modern era of Disney: Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen, and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. Tiana seems to be identical to the Disney Collectible Minifigures Series 2 version, while the other three are new from top to bottom. Again, all of them have reversible heads.

Conclusion and recommendation

We recommended the original 71040 Disney Castle back in 2016 when we reviewed it (our reviews have come a long way since then!), and this update earns a similar thumbs-up recommendation, as it’s been improved in every aspect. The build is not only bigger with more of the castle included, but it’s also more intricate with new details like the arrowslits and gold ornamentation, and better-sculpted towers. I find the new color scheme to be more attractive, and the fireworks are a lovely touch. There are not only more minifigures than the original set, but they are more unique figures as well, with seven of them being completely exclusive to this set currently.

But if you already own the original castle, it’s hard to make that same recommendation. It is undeniably similar to the 2016 version, as one would expect for a model representing the same real-world object at the same scale. If you simply glance at the two models, not comparing them side by side, it’s hard to see most of the differences apart from color. They’re so similar that even displaying them side-by-side on a shelf would look decidedly odd to casual visitors and non-AFOLs. So if you’re an owner of the original, I think it would be hard to justify purchasing this set unless you’re the type of Disney fan who wants to own one of every Disney LEGO set for its own sake.

There’s one other option, of course. If you don’t yet own the original, it’s quite possible that once this new Disney Castle releases, the prices may fall quite a lot on the original, which retailed for $350 and is hovering around $400 on the secondary market currently. If that drops, it may be a tempting option for some. Sure, the new one is better, but if your budget is tight, the 2016 version is still a great set.

43222 The Disney Castle contains 4,837 pieces and 8 minifigures. It’s available from LEGO for US $399.99 | CAN $519.99 | UK £344.99, and may also be available from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

The original 71040 Disney Castle is no longer available from LEGO, but is available from third-party sellers on Amazon, eBay, and elsewhere.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

4 comments on “LEGO Disney 43222 The Disney Castle: new and improved? [Review]

  1. Lou

    I didn’t buy the original castle set just because of the color scheme and the brick work of the towers. The things I didn’t like on that set have all been corrected on this new set. And yes, I will be buying this on day 1.

  2. JanDK

    Excellent review of a really great set!
    Small remark: in the comparison picture between the old and new castle (46JN3-59), the crest above the gate is facing the wrong way. ;-)

  3. Jalkow

    Fantastic review as always: great pictures and a really interesting read too.

    Glad to see the round front towers got a great update: there’s something about the 16*4 wedge plate used in the old version that makes the set look older than it is.

    Is there a reason for excluding the set price in euro’s in reviews? Have been wondering this for a while now, could be helpful for us non-British Europeans.

Comments are closed.