It was inevitable that Dora the Explorer would have to become a princess in order for Fisher Price to keep up with Disney and the princess craze. Since we already had the Dora Talking House, I wasn't sure if it was worth it to also buy the castle set, even though my daughters really wanted it. Finally, I found it at a good price and decided to purchase it. My daughters have all gotten a great deal of play out of it, and I found there were several differences between this castle and the original Dora's Talking House.
The novelty to this castle is that each furniture set (sold seperately of course) comes with a magnetic wand that activates some hidden feature in one of the pieces. Things will open or do something when you touch the wand to them if they have this feature. The castle itself has several places where the wand activates something, such as the doors, elevator, turning bookcase, and magic mirror. So that is a feature that my kids enjoyed.
The one thing I found kind of disappointing was that there were no sound effects in the castle as there was in the Talking House. I know I should be grateful that it is one toy that doesn't need batteries, but face it, kids expect things to make noise and a few little sounds or musical effects would have added to the toy, at least for my kids.
The castle was very easy to put together, and I rather liked the fact that it doesn't fold up in any way. It is very straightforward so there are no hinges to break or complicated series of tasks to do in order to get it folded up. That makes it really easy for my youngest children to have access to the toy all the time and be able to play without my help. Unfortunately, this also means that the castle is very large and takes up a lot of room, but I would rather have a large item that gets played with a lot out in the open than one stored on a shelf that never gets touched.
I would defnitely recommend this castle to any little girl who enjoys Dora. Even if you already own other dollhouses or Dora items, this one is unique enough to make it worthwhile to purchase. It does get a bit pricey when you add all the furniture sets, but if you're a bargain hunter you can find the accessories at a reasonable price, and it can be used with the original house furniture and figures as well.