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Keck's Exclusives: Inside Once Upon a Time's Neverland Set

Oct 28, 2013 08:00 AM ET
by William Keck

Once Upon a Time

This season, the action on ABC’s Once Upon a Time has taken place almost entirely on Peter Pan’s magical island of Neverland — and will remain there for the rest of 2013, as producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz have teased, before the characters return to Storybrooke, where a new curse is expected to wreak havoc.

A little secret about Neverland: Nearly every scene is shot on one versatile set inside a Vancouver soundstage that is re-dressed to represent up to 12 different tropical locales, including the camps of Peter Pan, Mr. Gold and the gang from Storybrooke. “The plants and props are constantly moved around so you feel like you’re in a whole different forest,” says Colin O’Donoghue (Hook) of the expensive set that took a month to construct and was inspired by both Disney’s animated Peter Pan movie and the Ewok village from Return of the Jedi. 

“The production team has done an incredible job bringing the outside in,” says Jennifer Morrison (Emma). Almost 70 percent of the plants are real, which means the show’s foliage wrangler, Sarah McCulloch, has been working her green thumb to the bone. “It took us five days to assemble all the plants,” McCulloch says. “We have 200 real plants that have to be watered and pruned every day and heated at night, 30 actual tree stumps and 450 fake branches” to which silk leaves were added, she says.

The characters’ days in Neverland may be numbered, but, teases Josh Dallas (Charming), “the island may end up coming home with us in some way.” Whether it’s the island’s spells or its inhabitants, viewers will have to wait and see.

To see more exclusive images from the Neverland set, pick up this week’s issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, Oct. 31!

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