Disney’s characters are amongst the most recognisable in popular culture, beloved by fans of all generations. As such, the LEGO Group has been making Disney-inspired toys for some time. While a distinct Disney theme has emerged in the last decade, the relationship between LEGO and Disney is older than you might expect.
Join us as we explore the long working relationship between the LEGO Group and the Walt Disney Company, which has produced some of the LEGO lineup’s most hotly anticipated sets.
LEGO Disney history
Disney actually has a claim to the title of ‘oldest LEGO licensed product’. LEGO toys bearing the Disney brand date back to the 1950s, when the only LEGO toys available were wooden ones. Of course, since this isn’t LEGO as we understand the term, Star Wars is still a fair choice for the title as well.
Conventional Disney LEGO sets date back to 1999. As part of the DUPLO toy line, the LEGO Group released a number of Winnie the Pooh models. These featured familiar DUPLO pieces, as well as specially-moulded pieces for Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and their friends. A trio of sets were released under the Baby Mickey label, but these were pretty far from LEGO as we understand it today.
A number of Mickey Mouse sets were also released in this period. These models were analogous to the Fabuland range; brick-built models were paired with larger-scaled characters, and a number of specialised tools and accessories. However, this range was rather short-lived; only five sets were produced for the theme, and all within the year 2000.
Disney would be largely absent from the LEGO lineup for about a decade after that. However, as LEGO entered the 2010s a wide selection of Disney sets would arrive on store shelves. DUPLO models inspired by multiple themes would pop up throughout this decade, with the likes of Winnie the Pooh, Cars, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates all represented.
Of greater interest to older LEGO fans were the minifigure-scale sets in this period. 2010 saw a new line of Toy Story sets arrive, drawing inspiration from across the series’ history. Blockbusters like Prince of Persia and The Lone Ranger inspired their own toy lines, the latter representing a rare return to Wild West theming for the LEGO Group.
Pirates of the Caribbean may have been the most exciting, however. The theme launched in 2011 to coincide with the release of the fourth movie in the series. As with Toy Story, however, the theme recreated scenes from the films that preceded it. It also gave us two full-size pirate ships – 4184 The Black Pearl and 4195 Queen Anne’s Revenge – which would have drawn the eye of any LEGO Pirates fan.
By 2014, the format of the Disney set had begun to calcify a little more. Inspired by the recently launched Friends line, minifigure-scale Disney sets started to feature minidolls and a strong focus on princess sets. Films such as Brave, Tangled and Frozen all made appearances in this early period, as well as classics like Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid. Other princess characters like Mulan and Moana would also appear in later years.
Today’s Disney LEGO selection includes both DUPLO and minifigure-scale models, with a strong emphasis on girl-friendly properties. However, a Mickey Mouse subtheme (with a variety of play scenarios) suggests the broader Disney theme is starting to branch out once more.
LEGO Disney sets
Given the diversity of age ranges and subject matter, LEGO Disney sets lack a through-line in the same way that most themes do. That said, we can identify some broad themes from different eras in LEGO history.
Early sets with the Disney branding tended to be surprisingly realistic with their subject matter – often because the source material took a similar tack. Sets like 7571 The Fight for the Dagger are a good example of this. Its muted colours and simple (yet stylish) architecture make it a solid addition to, say, an Indiana Jones layout with little modification.
While sets like 7594 Woody’s Roundup! were obviously more fantastical, 7599 Garbage Truck Getaway features one of the most realistic garbage trucks the LEGO Group has ever assembled. The Toy Story theme would even recreate the infamous incinerator scene in 7596 Trash Compactor Escape.
A number of later releases would focus more explicitly on the younger Disney fan. The Juniors and 4+ brandings offer a number of easy-to-assemble sets starring beloved Disney characters. While princesses were obvious stars, a range of new Cars sets appeared under these umbrellas. The release of Incredibles 2 also inspired a trio of sets, allowing LEGO fans to assemble a full Incredibles family for the first time.
The recent Mickey and Friends sets continue this idea. Returning LEGO Disney sets to their roots, these include the likes of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, with the likes of Goofy and Pluto making rare appearances too. While familiar environments like farms and fire stations appear, 10774 Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse’s Space Rocket sees them blasting off into outer space as well.
2022 has introduced three new LEGO sets to this collection. 10777 Mickey and Minnie’s Camping Trip depicts a caravanning holiday for two of our favourite rodents. The set includes a very respectable caravan build and camping equipment including beds, a campfire and even marshmallows. Mickey, Minnie and Pluto can all be found in this set.
10778 Mickey, Minnie and Goofy’s Fairground Fun offers a Disney-branded fairground scene to play in. Its subject matter has a lot of overlap with previous models, but it’s still a solid option for both Disney and fairground fans. A small rollercoaster and Ferris wheel can be found in this set, as can a hotdog cart and a test-your-strength machine.
10780 Mickey and Friends Castle Defenders mixes things up a bit with a medieval-themed model. Mickey and Minnie appear as knights, while Donald and Daisy appear as a court jester and a queen respectively. They’re accompanied by a simple dragon, a small castle (complete with throne room and treasure chest) and a feeding trough for Minnie’s steed. A small catapult allows you to hurl pumpkins at any intruders.
A number of other Disney films have enjoyed standalone releases. The LEGO Ideas theme has provided Disney fans with a number of models; 21303 WALL-E gave us a large-scale model of the famous robot, while 21314 TRON: Legacy gave us the first LEGO light cycle. 21317 Steamboat Willie was a throwback to Mickey Mouse’s earliest days, with numerous nods to the original short and a greyscale colour scheme.
A particularly ambitious standalone release was 71042 Silent Mary. Inspired by the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, this set features a skeletal ship and spooky ghost crew. Its rotting timbers, muddy colour scheme and articulation mark it as one of the LEGO Group’s most unusual ships, and very much an adults-focussed product.
43179 Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse is another set aimed squarely at the adult Disney fan. It offers an elaborate, large-scale version of Mickey Mouse and his sweetheart, complete with accessories and display stands that mimic film strips. These stands even introduced a new opalescent colour in the film strip figure stands, for greater accuracy to the source material.
2022 has seen a rather unusual standalone set appear in the Disney theme. 40521 Mini Disney The Haunted Mansion is a tiny recreation of a beloved Disneyland attraction. The rear of the building is open, allowing several ghosts, portraits and furnishings to be viewed.
The set even comes with a minifigure. Haunted Mansion attractions are accompanied in real life by a butler, who’s dressed here in a turquoise jacket. Matching tails are created with a fabric element, and a new head element captures the gloomy expression of the butler himself.
Lightyear (an origin story of sorts for the Toy Story character) has enjoyed a quartet of new LEGO sets. For younger fans, 10962 Buzz Lightyear’s Planetary Mission is an obvious choice. It includes figures of Buzz and SOX, as well as AI companions Ivan and Eric. Other features of the set include a spaceship, a fuel cell and a small stretch of jungle terrain to explore.
Three minifigure-scale Lightyear sets have also appeared. If LEGO fans are ready to move on from DUPLO, 76830 Zyclops Chase is suitable for ages 4+. However, it’s a surprisingly detailed build, and find an audience amongst older builders.
The focus in the set is naturally the Zyclops itself – a large yellow robot with malevolent intentions. Ball-and-socket joints give its arms a range of movement, while a small piece of terrain is included to hide behind. Minifigures of Buzz Lightyear and Izzy Hawthorne are included, along with several accessories.
Buzz and Izzy return in 76831 Zurg Battle, which gives them a bigger enemy to fight. In this set, Zurg (who previously appeared in Toy Story 2) is reimagined as a massive robot that towers over our heroes. Like the Zyclops Zurg has plenty of articulation, including a pair of thumbs. However, he may struggle to hold anything with them.
The Buzz and Izzy minifigures each wear the familiar Star Command suits in this set, while Buzz has a set of detachable wings. He also has a ‘laser’ he can fire from one hand. Eric and SOX – Buzz’s robotic cat – accompany our heroes, alongside a small, brick-built fuel cell.
76832 XL-15 Spaceship may prove the most enticing set to Lightyear fans. This sleek model features some inventive parts usage and an attractive colour scheme, although (unusually) it has no on-board weapons to defend itself. However, it does come with a display stand and information plaque when you’re done swooshing it around.
Minifigures of Buzz Lightyear, Darby Steel and Mo Morrison can be found in this set. All of them are unique to it, with Buzz sporting a bright orange flight suit this time around. SOX and a variety of brick-built accessories accompany the ship, providing plenty of play value.
With new Disney films and properties perpetually on the horizon, it’s a safe bet that the LEGO Group will be following close behind.
LEGO Disney minifigures
Minifigures are a crucial component of most licensed themes, and for Disney that’s especially true. The shift to conventional LEGO sets in the 2010s has provided plenty of different minifigures, with a surprising amount of variation.
Minifigures in themes like Prince of Persia and Pirates of the Caribbean hewed fairly closely to existing trends for licensed sets. Prior themes like Indiana Jones (launched in 2008) had offered suitably LEGO-fied characters, with accurate outfits and skin tones. Disney sets took a similar tack, although these minifigures benefitted from new hair/hat pieces. Jack Sparrow, for example, received an elaborate piece to represent his headscarf and hairstyle.
The Toy Story minifigures demanded a slightly different approach – at least to begin with. The initial run of Toy Story minifigures featured bespoke heads and even (in Woody and Jessie’s case) longer legs, a first for LEGO sets. While the Pizza Planet aliens would retain their heads in later releases, the likes of Woody and Buzz would receive conventional heads and legs in keeping with the broader LEGO branding.
Conversely, a bespoke approach is sometimes necessary. The Collectable Minifigures line included two collections of Disney characters. Mickey Mouse made his debut in minifigure form, along with Donald Duck and several of his relatives. All of these featured brand new head pieces to better capture their distinctive appearances.
Of additional interest was other characters making their LEGO debut; fan-favourite Stitch made an appearance, as did Aladdin’s Genie and (of course) Aladdin himself. There was also representation from a number of other Disney films such as Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Hercules and even The Nightmare Before Christmas. Many of these would feature standard minifigure heads, although new hair and hat pieces were in frequent use.
21326 Winnie the Pooh is a particularly exciting set for minifigure collectors. This LEGO Ideas set recreates Pooh’s famous house and includes five exclusive minifigures. All feature unique elements (in a recent break from LEGO Ideas tradition). If LEGO Disney continues to branch out beyond their princess sets, the future could be bright for LEGO and Disney fans alike.
LEGO Disney castle
With a history steeped in fairytales, the castle is a firm fixture of Disney’s stories. It’s also proven to be a lucrative source of LEGO sets, with many different approaches to the concept in recent years.
The most sought-after of these is almost certainly 71040 The Disney Castle. This set was released in late 2016 and is one of the most ambitious sets in the Disney range. However, 4,080 pieces and a £299.99 price tag make this one for the diehard Disney fan – particularly as, following its retirement in 2022, it’ll only go up in price now.
This castle draws inspiration from Cinderella Castle, the centrepiece of Florida’s Magic Kingdom Park. Its assortment of towers and battlements also evoke the castle seen at the start of today’s Disney film releases.
While lucky park patrons can stay in the real life castle, the LEGO version offers a slightly different interpretation. The interior pays tribute to many different Disney films with its décor; the carpet from Aladdin adorns the ground floor, while Lumiere sits in a first-floor room. There’s even Snow White’s magic mirror (complete with poisoned apple), and the wizard’s hat from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. A particularly charming Easter egg is a brick-built glass slipper, cunningly concealed within one of the smaller towers.
The minifigure selection is relatively small for such a large model. That said, a number of exclusive appearances redeem it a little. Mickey and Minnie Mouse sport the same clothes as their theme park counterparts, while Daisy Duck also enjoys an exclusive outfit. The real MVP, of course, is Tinkerbell; over the last few years she’s become a mascot in her own right, and remains exclusive to this set several years after its release.
Disney’s Frozen has inspired a similarly lavish castle in LEGO form. 43197 The Ice Castle contains far fewer pieces (just over 1,700) but still stands an impressive 65 cm high. The interior contains many delightful nods to the movies and shorts in the Frozen franchise.
Highlights include a pair of sweeping staircases, an intricate chandelier, and – of course – a balcony for Elsa to stand upon triumphantly. The minifigure selection isn’t to be sniffed at, either. It includes Elsa in both her coronation and ‘Let it Go’ outfits, as well as Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and a trio of Snowgies to populate the castle.
Of course, a number of smaller castles have appeared in the LEGO Disney range. Several notable examples can be found in 2022 alone.
43205 Ultimate Castle Adventure is a new release in the LEGO Disney line for 2022. This large castle brings together characters from across Disney history: Snow White, Ariel, Tiana, Rapunzel and Moana. Other characters like Sebastian, Pascal and Pua accompany them.
The castle comes with multiple rooms, which each Disney character having their own unique space to live in. Ariel’s room – for instance – is decorated with seaweed, while Snow White has a fireplace and a red apple. There’s also a large cake at the centre of the castle, which Tiana’s kitchen presumably baked.
Sections of the castle can be folded and unfolded, and a simple locking mechanism holds the castle together. With its variety of rooms and characters, this is a solid option for newcomers to the theme.
Several other palaces have appeared in 2022. 43206 Cinderella and Prince Charming’s Castle draws inspiration from the 1950 movie, offering new glittery blue tower elements. It comes with everything you’d want it to including a kitchen, a dressing room, a bedroom and a throne. There’s even a door with a cat flap, allowing the malevolent Lucifer to make a covert entrance.
Minidolls of Cinderella and Prince Charming can be found in this set; the former has a choice of skirts, and the glass slippers decorate a transparent tile. A minidoll of Lady Tremaine – Cinderella’s wicked stepmother – also appears for the first time, making this set of particular interest to minidoll collectors.
43207 Ariel’s Underwater Palace is similarly attractive. This massive model recreates the palace at the heart of Atlantica, in the 1989 Little Mermaid movie. Shell and coral elements help to convey its undersea nature, as do sea creatures like Flounder and Sebastian.
The interior of the castle includes sleeping and dining areas, as well as a throne for King Triton. A collection of Ariel’s human treasures is tucked away in one corner, and includes a candelabra, a fork and a stone bust.
The palace is inhabited by Ariel, a new Triton minidoll, and Ariel’s sister Arista. Since Ariel has several sisters in the movie, there’s clearly scope for a full set.
At the other end of the scale, we have sets like 43204 Anna and Olaf’s Castle Fun. This model is aimed at the 4+ crowd; it offers a very simple castle build in familiar Arendelle colours. The front hall comes with a simple grandfather clock, and a spinning brick that allows Anna and Olaf to dance. A simple bedroom on the first floor and a handful of accessories round out the model.
As such – whatever your preference – there’s clearly a LEGO Disney castle for you.
LEGO Disney Princess
For better or worse, princess characters (and the princess-adjacent) are a firm fixture of LEGO Disney sets. The current range of princesses has its roots in 2014; the Friends theme, which launched two years prior, introduced a new character design called the minidoll. This theme would, in turn, provide a template for many LEGO princess sets.
Characters like Rapunzel, Merida, Ariel and Cinderella were amongst the first Disney minidolls. The sets surrounding them would also follow a similar format to contemporary Friends models, with relatively simple builds and bright colours across the range.
While certain models like castles and carriages tend to dominate, unique colour schemes allow for some differentiation. Sets featuring Cinderella – for instance – include pale blues and purples, while Beauty and the Beast’s Belle favours dark reds instead. Disney’s continued shift away from conventional ‘princesses’ has also allowed LEGO Disney sets to diversify their subject matter.
41150 Moana’s Ocean Voyage features a brick-built camakau, echoing earlier sets like the ’90s Islanders models. In addition to an interpretation of Te Fiti, the set also included an exclusive Maui bigfig. 43181 Raya and the Heart Palace continued in a similar trend. While it marked a return to the castle concept, its pan-Asian architecture and rich colour scheme immediately differentiate it. Its new Tuk Tuk piece is also rather desirable.
43208 Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure is much smaller than other Disney sets, but it’s still very attractive. The centrepiece of the model is a simple palace inspired by Agrabah. Its interior features a small dining area, a sofa on the balcony and a crate with various accessories. These include Jafar’s staff and a sword – the latter is, presumably, used by Mulan.
A tiny structure inspired by Chinese architecture can be found here too, with hanging lanterns and a cherry blossom tree. Of particular interest is a pair of chopstick elements, which offer new play possibilities. Cri-Kee the cricket appears on a printed, transparent element, and is housed within a gold lantern.
New minidolls of Jasmine and Mulan are joined by Rajah the tiger, Khan the horse and Carpet. Khan comes with a saddle so Mulan can ride him, although Rajah has a removable back element too. This suggests Jasmine could ride him if you so desired.
43203 Aurora, Merida and Tiana’s Enchanted Creations offers more rare minifigures and a unique form factor. As the set name suggests, it includes characters from Sleeping Beauty, Brave and The Princess and the Frog; each one comes with a storage box that references their movie.
Aurora comes with a treasure chest whose sides can fold outwards. The interior includes a crown hidden behind two doors, and stained-glass murals of Flora, Fauna, Merryweather and Maleficent. A hairbrush and a rather gooey cake can be found here as well.
Merida comes with a small castle; official set images suggest it can be used to store pens and pencils. A drawer is built into one side, allowing you to store smaller pieces of stationery. A target for archery practice is included for some extra play value, as is a longbow.
Tiana can spin around atop a jewellery box; its green colour scheme and lily pad decorations reflect the swampland she travels through. She also comes with a DOTS bracelet with exclusive printed tiles. These depict Tiana and Prince Naveen in their frog forms, making the set a serious temptation for fans of the DOTS theme.
Instead of typical skirt or leg elements, each princess in this set comes with a large, crystalline skirt piece. This has a very large footprint and a matching ‘lid’. This allows the head and torso of the princess to be stored inside.
Anna’s Castle Courtyard and 43199 Elsa’s Castle Courtyard re-use the jewelled skirts from 43203 Aurora, Merida and Tiana’s Enchanted Creations. The courtyard in each one is implied by a miniature build. Anna’s takes its cues from Arendelle in Autumn, while Elsa’s is inspired by her ice palace in the first movie. The ‘lid’ of each skirt is incorporated into the build, forming the base of a small water fountain in each case.
Anna is accompanied by Bruni and an orange leaf (which may represent the elemental spirit Gale) while Elsa has a Snowgie and an ice crystal. Each of these models may be best used as companions to larger builds, as they have little value on their own.
43209 Elsa and the Nokk’s Ice Stable fares better in this regard. It depicts a small slice of Frozen II’s Enchanted Forest, with purple leaves and hanging icicles. Elsa appears as she does at the end of the movie, with a white dress and her hair down.
The Nokk may be more attractive, though. This translucent water-horse is a key ally of Elsa in the movie, and very rare in LEGO form. While it has appeared once before (in 41168 Elsa’s Jewellery Box) its inclusion here makes its purchase far easier to justify.
LEGO Disney train
Disney-inspired trains are more prolific in LEGO form than you might expect. An early example is 7597 Western Train Chase, released in 2010; this model takes inspiration from Andy’s play session at the start of Toy Story 3. While it offers an attractive selection of rolling stock (including a passenger car, a freight car and a caboose) the locomotive is lacking a tender. However, the set does come with several key characters from the movie including Woody, Buzz, Rex and Hamm – complete with evil bowler hat.
79111 Constitution Train Chase (released within the Line Ranger theme in 2013) offered a more realistic take on the concept, and remains one of the most attractive trains in LEGO form. The classically-styled locomotive is accompanied by a pair of freight cars, as well as a collapsible water tower. However, the locomotive itself lacks driving rods on its wheels – a common feature on locomotives of this size.
While it lacks motorisation, a motor can be added to this set to increase its play value. That said, significant modifications must be made to the tender, and the battery box must be housed in one of the freight cars.
71044 Disney Train and Station appeared in 2019, and is certainly the most lavish LEGO train of its kind to to date. Like 71040 Disney Castle, this set draws inspiration from the Disney amusement parks. The C.K. Holliday steam engine is recreated in this set, along with functioning valve gear. Two passenger cars accompany it; one of these is a lavishly appointed parlour car for passengers to enjoy, although passenger capacity on its fellow is much higher.
A detailed station building can be found in this set. This includes all the trappings of a traditional railway station including a ticket counter, a bench and a set of weighing scales. However, there are additional fine details including multiple model locomotives and a tiny model of 71040 The Disney Castle in the attic. It even marked the debut of Goofy in minifigure form, making this a particularly enticing set from multiple angles.
LEGO Disney Black Friday
Check back here around Black Friday to see our predictions on LEGO Disney discounts.