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Saturday, April 17, 2021

How to Build Disney Inspired Castles with Connetix Magnetic Tiles

If you have a little one who loves Disney movies, then they'll be blown away if you create their very own Disney inspired castle from magnetic tiles! Our girls are firmly obsessed with Disney movies {and just quietly I still am too}. In our house Frozen {and Frozen II}, Tangled and The Little Mermaid are on constant rotation. 

Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, Olaf, Rapunzel and Ariel make regular appearances in my girls imaginary play, so I decided to extend on their interests and gave myself a challenge to recreate Disney princess castles with Connetix tiles. Each week for the past few weeks I've built a new castle from one of their favourite movies and I'm sharing them all here so you can do the same for your kids too.

how to make disney inspired magnetic tile castles

We love creating all sorts of objects and play scenes with our Connetix tiles and as our collection has grown larger, our builds have gotten bigger. They love building houses and small villages for their different peg dolls and figurines, castles were a natural progression. One of the benefits of making castles from magnetic tiles is that you don't need to go out and buy a big plastic or wooden castle toy. You can build a magnetic castle whenever your child wants to play with one, and once they're done just pack the magnetic tiles away as usual. So you're saving money and storage space, but still providing an opportunity for imaginative play.

Tip - If you want to colour co-ordinate the castle tiles like I have you'll need a few packs of Connetix, otherwise you can make them in any colour. The Connetix base plates also come in handy to help keep the castles stable either using them as the base, or as a wall panel.


HOW TO MAKE ELSA'S ICE CASTLE FROM FROZEN 


Without a doubt my 3yr old's favourite movie of all time is Frozen {plus Frozen II, she loves them equally} so Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf are involved in her imaginary play in some way pretty much every single day. We have the figurines, but what we don't have is a Frozen castle, so I decided to create my own version of Elsa's ice castle using blue and purple magnetic tiles. 

elsas ice castle made from magnetic tiles
The scenes my daughter loves most from the castle in the movie are when Anna walks up the staircase to talk to Elsa and when Elsa is singing let it go from the balcony, so instead of making a replica of the outside of the castle I did a cut out version as if we're looking inside the castle. She loved this as she could walk Elsa and Anna up and down the stairs and make Elsa sing on the balcony.

To make the curved staircase I used some isosceles triangles with squares to hold them up which creates a slight curve, the more stair layers you add. I then used right angled triangles to make a stair rail. If you have enough tiles you could use this technique to create a spiral staircase for other builds.

how to make a curved staircase with magnetic tiles

I used the blue base plate as the back wall which helped to stabilise the mezzanine floor of the castle because all the pieces were connected to the base plate magnets as well as each other. The purple fence tiles were the perfect way to create railings for the balcony. My 3yr old spent almost an hour playing with the castle {adding in all the other princesses who came to visit} and then came back to it for shorter periods over the next few days.


HOW TO BUILD CARONA CASTLE FROM TANGLED


Her second favourite Disney movie is Tangled and almost immediately after we built Elsa's castle she was demanding we build Rapunzel's castle. I had all these grand plans to build Gothel's tower so she could reenact Rapunzel letting down her hair and Flynn Rider climbing up the tower, however she shot that idea down pretty quickly. Nooooo mummy I want the castle not the tower. So we made Corona castle instead, because who am I to argue with a 3yr old.

carona castle made from magnetic tiles

In Tangled, Corona castle is where Rapunzel is born and later where she lives with Flynn {Eugene} and her parents Queen Arianna and King Frederic after she realises she's the lost princess. It's also featured a few times as the place where the lanterns are released each year on her birthday {which I think was the real reason my daughter wanted to recreate the castle rather than Gothel's tower}. Corona is an island castle that sits high on the island surrounded by village houses. The castle is defined by it's steeped red roofs and many towers with blue domes. There's also a balcony in the centre of the castle where the lanterns are released each year.

rapunzel on carona castle balcony

To create the island for Corona castle I used a cardboard box covered in green fabric and then put a blue playsilk around the base of the island for the water. I added a few houses around the bottom of the island to represent the village homes. I used the green base plate on top of the cardboard box to create a stable base for the castle. I then used a combination of yellow and orange squares {including large squares} to create the many tower layers of the castle. 

I made sure to include the balcony in the center of the castle with the higher wall and steeped roof behind, then two high towers. To create the blue domed roofs I had to get creative and used equilateral triangles, which is the closest I could make with the tiles we had. 


HOW TO RECREATE PRINCE ERIC'S CASTLE FROM THE LITTLE MERMAID


My favourite Disney movie as a child was The Little Mermaid so I'm beyond excited that my girls love it too. We've spent many hours singing Part Of Your World and have created many under the sea small worlds so the girls could recreate The Little Mermaid. They were so excited about this castle 

erics castle from the little mermaid

In The Little Mermaid Ariel first meets Eric when she saves him from a shipwreck during a freak storm and drags him back to the beach. Eric's castle features heavily in the movie as Ariel often swims to admire it from a rock in the ocean, hoping to one day experience life as a human. It's located at the bottom of a cliff face on the ocean shore and It's most defining features are the walkway above the ocean leading to the bath house and the side staircase entrance to the shore.

Eric's castle is a lot bigger than the other castles and required a lot of tiles so I ended up using a combination of yellow, orange and red tiles. I added a blue scarf, some rocks and sea animal figurines so the girls could play with Ariel as a mermaid in the ocean as well as Ariel and Eric on land in the castle. You could also build a magnetic boat to act out the storm and wedding scenes from the movie as well.

eric and ariels castle from the little mermaid made from magnetic tiles

HOW TO BUILD BEAST'S CASTLE FROM BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


Beast's castle is the main setting for most of the Beauty and the Beast film. Located in the deep, dark and dangerous forest, Beast's castle is initially reminiscent of a fortress after an enchantress puts a spell on Prince Adam and turns him into a Beast. 

For most of the film Belle is imprisoned in the castle along with Beast's servants Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs Pott's and Chip, after she traded places with her father Maurice in exchange for his release. However, as the movie progresses and Belle and Beast fall in love, the castle is transformed to it's former glory and becomes the home of Belle and her father.

beauty and the beast castle made from connetix magnetic tiles

Beast's castle has lots and lots of towers with triangular red roofs and a balcony in the centre of the castle. I recreated this by using a base plate to stabilise a number of yellow towers and then used a mixture of isosceles, equilateral and right angled red triangles and small red rectangles as the roofs. We didn't have enough tiles to make all the towers three dimensional so the base plate really came in handy to stabilise them all and give the desired effect without them falling over.

beauty and the beast castle made from magnetic tiles

HOW TO MAKE PRINCE CHARMING'S CASTLE FROM CINDERELLA


Arguably the most iconic Disney castle, which features in thousands of tourist photos from Disneyland, is Cinderella's castle. Cinderella is the quintessential rags to riches fairy tale and probably the first Disney movie I ever watched as a child. It's hard to believe it was first released way back in 1950!

cinderella's castle made with magnetic tiles

Prince Charming's castle is the location of the famous ball in Cinderella. It has an entrance way at the front and lots of towers with tall blue cone roofs.  I used window pieces to create the entrance gates and then made lots of yellow towers, all stabilised by the blue base plate. I then used different sized blue triangles to represent the cone roofs. If you have enough tiles you could make all the towers three dimensional and then make proper cone roofs with triangles but we didn't have enough tiles.

cinderella magnetic castle with gates open

We have the Little People Cinderella carriage so the girls had fun using that to bring Cinderella and other princesses to and from the ball at the castle. This was the simplest castle to build and the one my daughter played with the most as she was able to open and close the gates and put her dolls in and out of the castle.


An important point to remember when trying to replicate any of these Disney castles is that children don't need perfection in order to create meaningful imaginary play. I modelled our castles off of the cartoon version of each Disney castle, but despite not being perfect replica's of each one {due to not enough of the correct tiles for some}, the girls still knew which castle was which and had hours of fun playing with them. So, even if you don't have exactly the same tiles as I've used in these photos, still give it a go. 
how to build disney inspired castles with connetix magnetic tiles


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