When ABC's Once Upon a Time wrapped its first season as one of TV's highest-rated new dramas, the cast was given six weeks to flee the series' enchanted forests and fairy-filled castles. Where do you suppose the show's Snow White — played by Ginnifer Goodwin — escaped for her summer hiatus? Believe it or not, Disneyland! And not for just one or two visits, but five trips, often accompanied by her on-and off-screen prince, Josh Dallas.
Not surprisingly, the Charming twosome found themselves the objects of intense fascination at the Happiest Place on Earth. "Walking into the park, it begins with, 'Hello, Ms. White' and then it's mayhem," says Goodwin, a lifelong Disneyphile. "I've been working since 2001 [including five seasons on HBO's Big Love] and have been stopped as Snow White more times in the past eight months than I was in the first 10 years of my career."
"I've never experienced anything like it," echoes Dallas, on the show's Steveston, British Columbia, set with Goodwin. "It's weird to go out in the world and have people call you 'Charming' and 'Snow.' But it's a wonderful thing."
Turns out the looky-loos have not confined themselves to theme parks. Try as the series may to protect its secret plots, several Canadian locals, as well as tourists, make themselves comfortable on a curb to watch the season premiere's opening scene play out like live theater. It's an unavoidable challenge of working in a functioning town that keeps its shop doors open during production.
The previous week, Lana Parrilla (Evil Queen/Mayor Regina) was shooting what she calls "a pretty intense scene" with Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold) in which she exits his antique shop with a secret prop. "I was so afraid [the onlookers] would see it that I had to hide it in my jacket."
Though there's more the producers wish to keep hidden, we'll tell you what we know: The action picks up right where May's cliff-hanger left off, with the Queen's curse broken and a purple haze sent by Rumplestiltskin shrouding the bewildered citizens of Storybrooke, bringing magic to the bucolic Maine town.
On set, Goodwin and Dallas re-create their characters' terrified end-of-season embrace. As the smoke dissipates, they recognize Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) and Henry (Jared Gilmore) as their daughter and grandson. The Jerry Springer-like reunion ("though a little less redneck," jokes Kentucky native Dallas) soon widens to include Ruby, Granny, the Blue Fairy and all seven dwarfs. Later, they are joined by Jiminy Cricket and the mysterious Dr. Whale, whose past with Regina will be explored in Episode 5.
Trouble begins from the get-go. It's not long before Snow and Emma are faced with an epic adventure that will test their bravery and survival skills. But first, all the colorful comrades, led fittingly by Grumpy, conspire to string Regina up from her own apple tree. "The secret's out, and everyone's out to get her," teases Parrilla.
Before going out with her boyfriend, Parrilla joins a visitor for a glass of wine in a hotel lobby bar after an exhausting 17-hour shoot the day before. All Parrilla can say about it is, "Regina's definitely confronted with her own demons."
Executive producers Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz plan to delve deeper into the Queen's origins, specifically revealing the hand Rumplestiltskin played in her discovery of magic. "Even if it's in you," explains Horowitz, "it's an art you have to learn and cultivate."
"Like the Force!" adds Kitsis, a Star Wars disciple.
Look for Rumple/Mr. Gold to make magic of a more personal nature with Belle, now that Emilie de Ravin has signed on as a series regular. The premiere offers a poignant moment when Belle discovers Mr. Gold has held on to their precious teacup as a cherished memento. Something else for "Rumpbelle" fans to look forward to: a premiere-episode kiss that Carlyle describes as "the moment people are waiting for."
For more with the cast of Once Upon a Time, pick up this week's Returning Favorites issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, Sept. 20!