Real Places & Detailed Locations Behind Once Upon a Time’s Fairy Tale Worlds

The allure of ABC’s fantasy drama, “Once Upon a Time,” wasn’t just in its reimagined fairy tales. It was also in the show’s ability to transport viewers from the modern-day town of Storybrooke to the enchanted forests of far-off realms. How was this achieved? Through a magical combination of brilliant storytelling and real-world filming locations. Let’s embark on a journey to discover the real-life places that added magic to the show’s seven seasons.

Fishing Village Magic: Steveston, British Columbia

Steveston, a quaint fishing village in Richmond, British Columbia, was the backbone of the series. It seamlessly became Storybrooke, the central hub of many tales. Familiar landmarks, such as the town’s library, Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop, and the main street, Moncton Street, came alive in Steveston. Fans can stroll the streets of Steveston and find themselves in “Once Upon a Time” thanks to a detailed walking map available from the Richmond tourism site. From Granny’s Diner (in reality, the Cannery Café) to unique “Once Upon a Time” themed delicacies, Steveston has lovingly wrapped itself around the show’s legacy.

Woodsy Wonder: North Vancouver, British Columbia

The enchanted forest, where many of the original fairy tales unfurled, took root in the wooded terrains of North Vancouver’s Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. The area’s Spur 4 Bridge donned the avatar of the series’ T(r)oll Bridge. A stone’s throw away, the Haswell Residence transformed into Granny’s Bed and Breakfast, distinct from her diner in Steveston.

Cityscape Charm: Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, a filming paradise, morphed into various cities for the series. Emma’s Boston memories and her time with Neal in Portland were brought to life in Vancouver’s urban corners. Among the most frequently used locations were Kerrisdale Elementary School, the backdrop for Henry’s school and Jefferson’s grand mansion. While Vancouver wore many masks, it also had a cameo as itself when Neal and August rendezvoused at the Helijet Heliport.

Big Apple Moments: New York City

Certain New York City flashbacks provided a genuine touch, shot on location, allowing landmarks like Central Park and the Fifth Avenue–59th Street station to weave into Neal’s backstory.

Regal Residences: New Westminster, British Columbia

New Westminster offered its elegant, historical homes to the series’ elite – Regina and Mr. Gold. Their sprawling residences showcased the lavish lifestyles of these two pivotal characters. Regina’s grand abode was the John H. McDonald House, while Gold’s majestic dwelling was the Charles Murray Residence.

The Mayor’s Mansion: Fort Langley, British Columbia

Before her redemption, Mayor Mills/Evil Queen’s authority was evident not just in the Enchanted Forest but also in Storybrooke’s town hall. In reality, the Fort Langley Community Hall provided the backdrop, a building that has shared screen space with other series like “Riverdale.”

The Studio and Beyond: Burnaby, British Columbia

Burnaby, home to The Bridge Studios, hosted numerous indoor shots, especially those that required green screens to bring the series’ magic to life. Yet, Burnaby’s magic wasn’t confined to studios. The Burnaby Village Museum became the Convent of The Sisters of Saint Meissa. Notably, Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park and Central Park were pivotal in portraying various landscapes, from Aurora and Mulan’s camp to the grandeur of Camelot.

In wrapping up this enchanted tour, it’s evident that “Once Upon a Time” was as much a story of imaginative realms as it was of the picturesque landscapes of British Columbia and beyond. Through these filming locations, viewers got to traverse multiple worlds, from enchanted forests to modern-day towns, all without ever leaving their couch.