Disney Castle (71040) Review

Alright my fellow readers, are you ready for a treat? This is probably a record for longest time between a release and a review – nearly 6 years! But it’s never too late to talk about amazing sets and this is definitely one of them. I am happy to bring you my review of the totally stunning Disney Castle (71040). Yes, you read that right, it’s time to revisit one of the largest and most popular sets in the LEGO®️ catalogue. Let’s look at this as a “Way-back Wednesday” review. And if you’re asking “But why now??”, the answer is “Well….It’s now or never!.” This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. And the set is also finally set to retire at the end of 2022, so this feels as right a time as any!

This will be a longer one folks, so make yourselves comfy. I’m eager to talk about it and I’m so excited to finally have this in my collection. Let’s also consider this an extension of our recent “Castle Week” series. A bonus issue if you will. I hope you enjoy.

NOTE: This set was provided by The LEGO® Group to True North Bricks for review. This does not guarantee a favourable review and all opinions are my own. For a breakdown of the rating system, please click here.

SET SUMMARY

  • NAME: Disney Castle
  • SET #: 71040
  • THEME: Disney
  • COST: $399.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 4080
  • MINIFIGURES: 5 (4 exclusive, 1 reuse)
  • RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2016
  • RETIRING ON: December 31, 2022

QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 92% (good cost-per-brick and cost-per-min scores for a set this size)
  • BUILD: 100% (an epic and wonderful build with plenty of detail and a variety of techniques)
  • MINIFIGURES: 80% (a small selection for a set this size, but still good designs overall)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 96% (a near perfect delight for AFOLs and young builders)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 92% (a “Don’t Miss” set that will impress and delight everyone)

VALUE: 92%

The Disney Castle (71040) retails for $399.99 in Canada. At least it does at the time of this publishing. Prices on certain sets are set to go up as of August 1st, but it’s unclear if this set will be affected. I would almost hope not given it’s imminent retirement from circulation. So if you have this sucker on your list, it might be a smart move to pick one up sooner than later. Not only that, but we’ve all seen how much discontinued sets can increase on the secondary market. I expect this one to fetch some toonies once it’s done.

With a whopping 4080 pieces – and at the current MSRP – we get an excellent cost-per-brick value of $0.10 for a score of 88%. For a set of this size and skill level, I’m grouping it with our other 18+/Creator Expert sets reviewed to date. It makes the most sense statistically. It’s pricey for sure, but it sits nicely above the theme average, and after nearly 6 years this set has managed to stay reasonably priced and in high demand. It’s massive, so it feels worth the $400.

Speaking of massive, this is a marathon of a build and that is not a complaint. This is one of the longest builds I have done – that I have timed at least. I built the Disney Castle (71040) in 10 hours and 44 minutes, or 644 minutes. This translates to a cost-per-minute value of $0.62 and a score of 90%. It’s a nice experience and it’s not one you want to rush. It’s also nicely above the average of $0.68 and 80% we have for all the sets in this category. Averaged together we have a great Value score of 89%. Which I am going to make even greater by rounding it up to 92%.

BUILD: 100%

The Disney Castle (71040) is a beast of a build. The gigantic box is bright, colourful and features a great hero shot of the final build with fireworks. On the back are close ups of several easter eggs and references. It’s fun to have an older set as the box is definitely different compared to current 18+/Icons packaging. If this was released now, it would absolutely have a black background with greebling border. Inside you will find 30 bags numbered 1 to 14, a surprisingly small sticker sheet and a hefty 491 page instruction manual. As you would expect with larger boxes, there’s another box inside with several of the bags. I totally love opening a second box, it feels extra substantial and ‘lux’ haha.

This monumental set is a phenomenal build with so many innovative construction techniques and gorgeous detailing. Architecturally it’s a masterpiece. The mix of SNOT, exposed bricks, angles, NPU and colours is absolutely top notch. It’s no surprise to know that Marcos Bessa is the designer here, he’s become the Michaelangelo of the LEGO®️ Group. Several design elements and techniques are wonderfully refined in sets like The Joker Manor (70922), the Disney Train Station (71044) and Diagon Alley (75978). His influence/direction in the Harry Potter, Disney and Super Heroes themes is really evident. I would love to see Marcos tackle a large Architecture set – just throwing that out into the universe.

A tiny bit modular

In a wise maneuver, the Disney Castle (71040) is built in three modular sections. While you can’t rearrange them, it does allow for easy transport and storage. The “1st floor” is made up of the main entry, turrets and clock face. It’s easily the most substantial part of the build. The “2nd floor” is really a couple of floors architecturally and includes the base of the tall tower and large window facade. Last is the “3rd floor” which is two levels of the tower plus the roof and spire details.

PART I: The Main Floor and Turrets

The base (“1st Floor”) of the model is pretty amazing. A solid technic construction creates a very stable base, one that feels secure when you pick it up. You’ll need this sturdy foundation for moving this sucker around. Although I wouldn’t advise trying to grab it all in one piece. Again, that modularity is a key component for making this set manageable. It’s secure, but you’ll still notice thinner or more fragile areas in spots.

The footprint is substantial and has plenty of wonderful references, techniques and Easter Eggs to enjoy. That front entrance is awesome. I love the printed elements like the clock face and stone work just below that, both exclusive elements. The clock is set to 11:52 – referencing Cinderella’s imminent need to bolt the party or it’s back to rags! The rock work on the gray walls is done fairly well, although it does rely on stickers for proper effect. With that said, this is really the only major use of stickers. For a set this size, the sticker elements are shockingly low! In fact you’ll see the majority outside including the Disney Coat of Arms just above the doorway. Otherwise, that’s it!

Great Architectural Elements

One immediate detail you won’t miss are the large turrets. And what’s a castle without turrets? A fort maybe? I dunno. Technique wise they are quite good. Using the 16 stud long bowed bricks adds just the right amount of curve and roundness. Is it perfect? Not really. The gaps in between are a bit too obvious, but there’s no piece in the catalogue that would really fix that. Each large wall is built as a single section and placed on the base at just the right angle. It connects to a turntable and holds in place with just a few bricks on either end. It’s a great bit of building using minimal parts to achieve accuracy.

All in the details

The top of each turret has an octagonal shape that very closely mimics a round parapet. The mixture of openings and solid bricks makes for some amazing shapes and silhouettes. The placement of parts at different directions adds a lot of texture and the effect is fabulous. In building this I was reminded a bit of sets like the NASA Apollo Saturn V (92176) and Hogwarts Castle (71043). The interior structure of the Saturn V and the towers of Hogwarts are made of similar round shapes. And while this assembly is very clever, it does get a bit repetitive in this one area. Making three tower/top combinations became a bit mundane, but this is honestly my only nitpick and it’s a small one.

The colour scheme on the base is fantastic. The mixture of gray, dark blue and white looks beautiful. And it’s the accurate architectural details that impress me the most. The ramparts, openings, crenelations and dentils are positioned and designed in just the right way. And the blue roofs topped with pearl gold flags and arrows are basically *chef’s kiss*. I love how the white clamp brick makes a perfect framed opening, especially when it’s next to the grey bricks. As an architecture student, I totally live for this stuff in my sets!

I also want to draw attention to the lanterns beside the entrance. They are upside-down Witch King crowns from the Hobbit sets. Here they get paired with a dish, trans cone and pearl gold accents to make one heck of a light. Pretty genius stuff. Throw in several unicorn horns as finials and decorative spire caps and you’ve got a “late-Gothic” tour-de-force. And lastly, if you look to the base of one of the towers you’ll see two frogs and a crown, a cute reference to The Princess and the Frog.

A spacious Interior

In making our way inside the Disney Castle (71040) we are first met with two big ol’ wooden doors. Stepping into the large open space you will find a tiled floor, columns, suits of armor, flowers and a chandelier. Said light fixture is another clever bit of design, using a ship wheel and cones. I love the armor suits created with minifigures, which if you’re a stickler, can count towards the minifig tally. I’m not, so I won’t, but I’m just saying you could. The interior is not overly elaborate, but the columns are built on clever angles adding some archways and structural detail. Tucked on one side is Aladdin’s magic carpet and lamp. Head the other way and you’ll find a Grandfather clock and coats of arms. It’s a nice bit of simple building, a trend that continues upstairs.

PART II: The Upper Floors and Tower Base

Moving on to the second portion of the build we are met with a very clear change in colour. Like the actual building, the Disney Castle (71040) has lighter coloured walls for the upper floors and towers. In the case of the real castle, it’s a shade of pink. Well, more accurately, it is now. At the time of release, the castle was still greyish-white with white detailing. But in June 2020 the castle received a facelift for Cinderella’s 70th Anniversary. It’s currently dusty rose with gold detailing and royal blue roofing (see below). So while this set design is still very close, it’s oddly out of date already. A detail corrected in the 2021 release of the Mini Disney Castle (40478). In either case, the use of light tan is a perfect match in tone to the light gray and adds some visual variety.

Original Castle (L) vs Today (R) ©️The New York Post/iStock/Disney Parks.

Less Floor Space

As we start to build upwards in the Disney Castle (71040) you’ll notice the footprint becomes significantly smaller. While the base is a substantial 25 studs in depth, the upper section is approximately 12 studs deep at it’s widest, but closer to 5 or 6 per ‘room’. This also results in a very large roof area on top of the base section. This space is fairly under-utilized, with just a small target and bow and arrow placed there to reference the film Brave. I’m happy it’s not overly packed, but there’s plenty more space for some clever nods and easter eggs. In fact, there’s a big empty space in the clock face roof that would be ideal for a picture or small build. Alas, not in this case.

Film References Abound

Inside this gorgeous bit of construction you will find 5 rooms and 1 hidden compartment with references to famous Disney Animated films. On the ‘1st floor’ you will find a kitchen setting for The Little Mermaid. This one is a bit of a miss. Until I read the manual, I wouldn’t have immediately guessed that this is the kitchen where Sebastian is scuttling for his life from the chef. The easiest fix is putting in a crab piece. Why is there no crab in this kitchen?! Instead there’s a pumpkin for whatever reason. Beside this room is a lovely nod to Beauty and the Beast with a simple rose under a dome (perfect) and very cool brick-built Lumière. This saucy candelabra’s body is a tool part found in many a city set, often enough as a jackhammer. I’m super impressed with how well it works.

Just above this room is a very fun reference to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia with a chest, book, pails, mops and the magician’s hat. The hat is wonderfully printed with gold stars and exclusive to this set. Another practically exclusive piece is the mop head. It’s a great design that only appears here and in the Main Square (60271) from 2020’s City theme. It also means it was molded specifically for this set – and that makes all the sense. Beside the Fantasia room is my favourite bit of micro-building, the Spinning Wheel from Sleeping Beauty. It’s wonderfully simple but instantly recognizable.

Who’s Room is This?

Lastly (room wise) is a fancy bed on the ‘3rd floor’ which I assumed was another reference to Sleeping Beauty. But the instruction book doesn’t make that note. So I can only assume it’s the special ‘secret’ hotel suite found in the castle. It’s not something you can book however, only win a stay through lotteries and contests. If it’s not that, then I’m stumped. Either way, it’s a nice bit of design with great printing on the footboard pieces and nice gold accents.

The Disney Vault

The Disney Castle (71040) features a cute hidden compartment with yet another Easter Egg. Lifting the blue roof on the far side reveals a small space with 2 very cute elements. One is a book piece with a (then) exclusive print of the castle’s silhouette and the “once upon a time” tile inside – yet another print/part that was made specifically for this set. It’s since found it’s way into quite a few more sets. The second item is Cinderella’s glass sipper built from three trans clear pieces. This ultra fragile footwear is then placed in a case, which makes me laugh. It’s totally smart, but it’s like a “break in case of emergency” set up. It’s a nice wink to storytelling and makes a fun surprise for builders.

PART III: The Upper Tower

Working our way to the top of this 29″ (74cm) tall beauty we get the upper ‘floors’ of the tallest tower. Wisely a separate piece, it caps off the building with an amazing pearl gold spire and even more finials, windows and gargoyles (kinda lol). The golden spire is awesome and adds so much verticality to the design. The rows of 1×1 pearl gold studs create just the right amount of texture.

The interior space shrinks once again but we still manage to get two more rooms and references. The lower one is a treasure chest with a brush, scissors and a mini pony tail. All these clever elements refer to Rapunzel in the pretty hilarious Tangled film. And in case you feel like making fireworks, Just behind the chest are two stud shooters with gem elements. It’s a cute way to simply recreate the famous nightly fireworks display that is a staple of the park. Thrown in a zipline for Tinkerbell and you’ve got a show!

Our last bit of Easter Eggery is from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. For Disney’s first feature length film (released 83 years ago…😶) we get the Evil Queen’s magic mirror and the poisoned apple. The mirror is mostly brick built and uses a reflective sticker to complete the effect. This is one of so few stickers, there’s no way you should be mad at it. Stacking everything together makes a beautiful series of rooms, vignettes and volumes from the back. And of course from the front it’s a cohesive and elegant structure. Kudos to everyone who worked on this beauty.

A Build to Remember

The Disney Castle (71040) is an absolute joy to build. Aside from some repetitive techniques on the turrets, there’s nothing boring about this set. And I honestly have nothing negative to say about any of it. There’s a ton of variety in every section. It all comes together magically and with just enough of a challenge to make it interesting from start-to-finish. Architecturally it’s a gem; one that expertly recreates so many little details in brick form. The interiors have fantastic references and recreate a lovely collection of scenes and objects. My few nitpicks and observations are not enough to take away any points. So after AAALLLL that writing you will find it no surprise that I score this build 100%.

MINIFIGURES: 80%

The Disney Castle (71040) comes with just 5 minifigures, which is sadly low for a set this size. Part of the reason is no doubt the already high cost of the set itself. More minifigs undoubtedly means more money. But another factor is the Disney Collectible Minifigures Series 1 released just 3 months earlier on May 1, 2016. It’s not often you get a full complimentary set of 18 minifigures ahead of a major set that can essentially be their ‘home’. In spite of this, we still get a very low brick-to-fig score of 816 which earns a score of 30%. This is the only spot where the set under delivers.

On their own, the minifigures are very good. In this set you get Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck and Tinkerbell. At the time of release all but Donald Duck were exclusive as he is the same design found in the Series 1 Disney CMF. I find that an odd choice since, again, with only 5 minifigures, you’re already getting less options. All 4 main characters are in fact also available in the CMF, but with different prints. Why not include Cinderella and the fairy Godmothers? Or Prince Charming? Six years on, I guess there’s not much point in getting critical 🤷‍♂️.

“Oh Boy!”

Starting with our mouse friends, Mickey gets a snazzy tuxedo print but only on the front. The fancy duds do continue with a cloth piece for his jacket tails. He does have great leg printing including his feet. The head is a brand new mold introduced with the CMF line and it looks fantastic. His white gloves and polka-dots are also spot-on. Minnie fares a little better thanks to lovely front and back torso printing, a molded skirt piece, dual leg printing showing her bloomers and feet printing. Her head is also a lovely mold brought over from the CMF. A small hole in the top allows you to place her bow, or other accessory. Her outfit here is identical to the CMF fig, but it’s red instead of pink.

(*hyperbolic duck sounds*)

Donald and Daisy Duck are, like their rodent friends, brought over from the CMF line. Donald is the exact same print and design: dual-sided torso print of a sailor’s tunic, wrist printing, dual-molded legs, a new head mold, fluffy tail piece and a sailor’s cap. I love the happy expression and it’s super adorable. Daisy, like Minnie, gets a recoloured outfit for this set from light pink to dark pink. The figure also has all same characteristics as Donald except for dual-printed arms, foot printing and a bow.

Clap people, CLAP!

Tinkerbell is the only ‘human’ character, and the only one truly unique to this set. Her wings are a lovely trans blue colour and her accessory (the only fig to get one) is a trans neon-green wand. She has front and back torso printing, printed feet and a cloth skirt piece. She only has one facial expression, but her hairpiece is still exclusive to this set.

Overall these minifigures are very good. They are missing a few things here or there that impaact our rating system, but with molded heads, it’s tricky to hit all those notes. Each one is quite lovely even if they are essentially reprints. As a whole I am giving the minifigures a score of 80%. I will not however add in the brick-to-fig score as it is abysmal and honestly not applicable to a set of this type. With sets like this I find minifigures are a bonus and not an expectation. My final score for the Disney Castle (71040) minifigures is 80%.

ENTERTAINMENT: 96%

The Disney Castle (71040) is an epic set. It is a gorgeous display piece that will look amazing on your shelf and in your collection. The amount of detail and ‘presence’ is right up there with the best of the best of the recent 18+ and LEGO®️ Icons sets. And for a set that is over 6 years old, that is a major compliment. AFOLs will (and do) love this set for so many reasons. And being a Disney product, young builders will love it to. It’s a bit more complex for your average KFOL, but the end result is a fairly great (if not pricey) play set. Break out those Disney CMF figs and have a blast. Or maybe put your sigfigs there and recreate a fave family vacation.

With over 4000 pieces, MOC makers can have a field day with all the available parts. There’s a substantial amount of bricks to go with the rarer parts and smaller detail pieces. I do remember seeing photos of AFOLs completing the full castle using two or three copies of this set. It’s an impressive feat and just adds that much more monumental grandeur to an already grand set. But I am taking off just a few points for the inclusion of less minifigures, and therefore less play potential given the price/size. It’s a small thing and my final score for this section is 96%.

And so after years of being annoyed, Mickey finally snapped….

OVERALL: 92%

I think it’s pretty clear that this is an awesome achievement of a set. Even if you’re not a Disney fan the end result is something all collectors will love. A big hefty set is always a treat and this one has stayed on shelves for an impressively long time. It’s definitely helped a few people keep busy during lockdowns so thanks to The LEGO®️ Group for letting this one stick around so long. But it can’t be available forever and the retirement date is set for December 31, 2022. So if you’ve been on the fence with this one, I would pull that trigger soon. You won’t regret it! This ‘MUST-HAVE’ set earns a final score of 92%.

“That sure is Swell”

Goodness friends, if you made it this far then a HUUUGE thank-you for sticking with me. And if you just skipped to the end, well then I still thank-you. This was a massive treat to review. Now I just have to find space in the LEGO®️ room….the Catch-22 of all collections. I also really liked looking at an older set and seeing it’s history and successes. I’m a big fan of parts availability too which were fun to research for this set. Tracing a particular piece and minifigure make for interesting discussions.

But enough of my ramblings, I want to hear your thoughts? Do you own the Disney Castle? Did you pick this up back in the early days of its launch? Would you like to see other Disney Park castles or attractions made into giant sets? Please drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts. Thanks very much for reading this review and until next time, keep on brickin’. 🧱

-Frank

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4 Comments

  1. Lorri Vallese says:

    I bought this from China and pretty much regretted it from the beginning. In the end I resold it to a young mom and her daughter who I hope had much joy in making and playing with it. I am okay I will not own a true Disney Castle.

    1. Oof… yes, always be careful with the knockoff Chinese stuff.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is epic.

  3. Joanne Scantlebury Muckart says:

    AWeSoMe BuiLD Frank!!! Impressive Review!! Absolutely FAB set and great bank for your buck in sooo many ways!! Would be a Star Feature for any Legoist or Disney fan, make a great gift too for kids from young to old. Cannot wait to see in person!!

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