Fans of Once Upon a Time streamed into the D23 Arena on July 15th, 2017 to get the latest news on their favorite characters. Show creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz sat down with host Jeffrey Epstein for this much-anticipated panel.

Season 6 Finale Bombshell

The Season 6 finale shattered norms that we had come to know as canon for Once Upon a Time (OUAT).

Why is there a new storybook? How does adult Henry have a daughter he doesn’t remember (Lucy)? And who is her mother? What happens to Emma, Snow, and Charming in Storybrooke? There are so many unanswered questions, and fans are asking ‘why?!’

Kitsis and Horowitz explained that they were able to give our beloved Storybrooke characters their happy endings (or is it happy beginnings?), and that their tales had been told over the last six seasons.

“It felt like it was time to close the chapter and start a new one,” said Horowitz. “Creatively, we wanted to keep moving forward into something new. Because part of the fun of the show is always new spins on these things,” adds Kitsis.

Emma and Hook are happily married. Mr. Gold and Belle are back together to raise baby Gideon. Snow and Charming are aglow with baby Neal, and Zelena cuddles baby Robin. In a scene that resembled da Vinci’s The Last Supper, we closed this chapter of Henry’s book.

Not Erased or Forgotten

Ed and Adam reassured fans that moving forward, “we really want to…make sure we honor what happened over those six years, and what those characters went through.” Our favorite characters will not be “erased” from history: “It’s not a complete reset.” In fact, it is very likely that some favorite characters may appear in future episodes of OUAT.

“Hyperion Heights” Homage, Season 7 finds Henry in Seattle

The show creators honor their Disney heritage, revealing that Season 7 will be set in the “Hyperion Heights” area of present-day Seattle…although we may see Storybrooke ‘a few times.’

Adam Horowitz reflects that their production building at Disney Studios – the ‘Shorts’ building – was originally on the Hyperion lot. It was the only building moved by Walt Disney to the Burbank studio location.

Season 7 will continue to explore ‘origin stories’ of new characters – and use creative ‘flash-back’ techniques to tell stories in the Enchanted Forest. They ‘fast-forward’ to adult Henry’s adventures with his daughter, Lucy.

Henry leaves Storybrooke to find a story where he is not the Author, and his ‘happy ending’ is not yet written. There are many other realms – they explained – and other story books, with different versions of the same characters.

New Character Revealed: Cinderella

Kitsis and Horowitz reveal a photo of Lucy’s mom for the first time: a new version of Cinderella, played by Dania Ramirez (Devious Maids).

Following the family tree: Henry (Snow White and Prince Charming’s grandson) is now with a new Cinderella. They point out that Henry is looking a bit like his step-father, Hook, in this photo. “The only thing missing is the guy-liner,” jokes Ed.

A Pirate’s Tale

Kitsis and Horowitz brought along a guest: the dashing pirate himself, Colin O’Donoghue. (The arena erupts in thunderous applause). While many things are uncertain, Hook will definitely return in OUAT Season 7. The show creators – in their “frustratingly vague” manner – share that Hook will be in Seattle “doing some interesting stuff,” and “what happened to him” will be revealed in flashback scenes in S7 Episode 2. You won’t want to miss it.

So, what of Hook and Emma? Might they have children that appear in Season 7? Ed and Adam don’t rule out the possibility… and say this will also be answered at the beginning of the season. They also reassure fans that Emma is Hook’s soulmate, and that he will not return to his villainous ways.

Sitting Down with Colin O’Donoghue

The comfy chairs on stage at D23 Expo produced a more casual discussion than the San Diego Comic-Con panel-at-the-table format that I’m accustomed to. Colin was grilled with a lightning round of his ‘Disney Favorites.’

  • Favorite Disney Movie: Aladdin
  • Favorite Disney Song: “A Whole New World”
  • Favorite Disney Park attraction: “I’ve never been…I’ve been busy working on the show that you guys watch! We never get a chance to come over.” (He did get to Disneyland the next day).
  • Favorite Disney Princess: Cinderella
  • Favorite piece of Disney merchandise that you own: Captain Hook doll
  • Favorite Disney character that you don’t play: “Jafar…I’ve said a lot of Aladdin, I’m surprising myself, actually.”

He also revealed his purchases earlier in the day at the D23 Disney Store: a Snow White pin, a mystery box, and a wind-up Oswald. Colin was met with incredible fanfare during the D23 Street Party. He really enjoyed riding the classic cars that they had brought over from Disneyland’s Main Street USA.

O’Donoghue reflected on the different versions of Hook he has played over the years, including “leather-clad swashbuckling villain-ish” Hook and romantic Hook. Particularly fun for him was ‘old, fat Hook.’ “They all have a little special part for me,” he reminisced.

The three guests played a game of Captain Hook trivia with red / green ping pong paddles. Amusingly, Ed Kitsis had many of the answers incorrect until he checked the monitor for Adam and Colin’s answers.

“Revenge, Revenge, Revenge, is Gonna Be Mine” – and the Musical Episode

After years of fan requests, Edward and Adam made wishes come true in the musical Wedding episode of UOAT: “The Song in Your Heart.” Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (the brilliant team behind Disney Cruise Line’s Twice Charmed stage show) wrote original songs customized for our Storybrooke characters. (The showrunners assured us that there will not be a musical episode in Season 7).

Colin revealed that during the filming of his solo, “Revenge is Gonna Be Mine,” he broke his foot. It happened in the scene 26 seconds into the song as he stepped off the back of a chair. This stunt went perfectly in rehearsals, but during filming, he felt something snap. Still, O’Donoghue soldiered on, trying not to wince when kicking ale glasses off the table later in the number.

Medical testing afterwards confirmed that the foot was broken… and still is, he admitted.

As a special surprise, the panel ended with Colin giving a live performance of “Revenge.” O’Donoghue has an impressive vocal range – even without warm-ups – drawing from his previous band experience.

What a great way to top off the D23 Expo Once Upon a Time panel! What questions do you still have about Season 7? Only Time will tell…

Season 7 of Once Upon a Time returns on a new night: Friday, October 6th on ABC.