This past weekend, fans of the long running fantasy drama Once Upon A Time met in Whippany, New Jersey for Creation Entertainment’s “Once Upon A Time Official Reunion Convention”, a celebration of the show and a chance to reminisce a year after the show’s cancellation. I was lucky enough to spend Saturday meeting some of my favorite actors, and the convention was everything I had hoped for and more. It was also my first fan convention ever, and it definitely won’t be my last! Read on to see what happened!
First thing on Saturday morning, we all found our seats in the venue to start the day of panels ahead. Lee Arenberg (who played Grumpy on the show) was the host and kicked things off with a hilarious opening before handing the mic to Karen David (Jasmine) for her panel. Karen, sensing we were all a bit sleepy, led everyone in yoga stretches from the stage before taking fan questions. She took questions about all of her roles, which currently include Fear The Walking Dead and Legacies. She also told a funny story about her audition for the role of Jasmine and another about being scared on the set of Fear The Walking Dead. Karen was lovely and seemed to have a great time talking to fans, especially the younger kids who asked questions.
Next, Lee brought out Jared Gilmore (Young Henry Mills), Chris Gauthier (Smee), and Gil McKinney (Prince Eric) for their panel. Since their Q&A overlapped with one of my photo ops I was only able to stay for the beginning, but what I saw was hilarious. These four have great chemistry and were at ease on stage. As I exited the theater to line up for my photo, I could hear the laughter coming from the room.
I then went to the Emilie de Ravin (Belle) solo photo op. The line moved quickly and it was sweet to see the two little girls in front of me dressed as Belle meet Emilie. She gave them both hugs and the girls were delighted. When my turn came she was kind and excited to meet everyone, giving a quick hug and taking a great photo. From there, I headed to Emilie’s meet and greet and she was down-to-earth and told such funny stories. She also posed for photos with everyone, which was an unexpected bonus. I’d never had such a long conversation with an actor before, and Emilie had great insights and made sure to include the whole group.
That positive energy continued to Emilie’s Q&A, where fans asked questions about her role as Belle and her previous role on Lost as Claire Littleton. She shared that she has several upcoming projects that she can’t talk about yet, and talked about her two children, Vera and Theo. She also answered a question about her favorite bloopers from the show, saying that for her personally it was the many times she knocked things over while pregnant but that she enjoyed watching Josh Dallas’ attempts to make the other actors laugh. She got a back laugh when a fan asked if she was happy with Belle’s ending on the show, and Emilie paused before responding “was I happy … with death?” Emilie’s happy energy was contagious, and by the time she left the crowd was in a great mood.
I next had a duo photo op with Tiera Skovbye (Robin) and Rose Reynolds (Alice). Rose and Tiera’s genuine friendship shone through as the photos were taken, with Rose making fun of Tiera when she had a hard time completing a heart with her hand for one pose with a fan. Rose also complimented each fan as they arrived, making sure everyone felt welcomed.
After the photo op, I went to get a few items signed by Emilie. She took time with each fan, asking about different items and making sure she had everyone’s name spelled right. The whole process was organized and left each fan with time to chat briefly with their favorite actor.
Next was Rose and Tiera’s panel, which was the best of the convention. The two have great chemistry and their answers were both funny and well thought out. The moment where they shined was when a fan asked about what would have happened to their characters had there been an eighth season of the show. Rose mentioned that they would have gotten married and had kids, but she got hung up on the mechanics of the situation as Tiera collapsed in giggles. When Lee appeared on stage to signify the end of the panel, it got even funnier as he suggested that he could be their kid, correctly anticipating that someone would make a meme out of it. Their panel could have gone on all afternoon and everyone would have stayed to listen.
After Rose and Tiera left, there was a bit of a delay as Sean Maguire made his way to NJ from New York City and got stuck in traffic. In the meantime, Gil and Karen hosted a game of charades with fans, which had the whole room cracking up. Sean finally arrived and apologized for being late, saying that he simply overslept after taking a red eye flight. Sean’s panel was funny and he was at ease discussing his role with the fans. He frequently joked that he didn’t watch the show and that his answers would be unsatisfying, but the audience’s reactions showed that they disagreed. He discussed his least favorite prop, which was his bow and arrow since it hit everyone he interacted with and was hard to wield. He also had the room laughing when he commented on how every question started with “after you died…” since his character had an unpopular death in the season five finale. His answers were self deprecating and funny, and his panel was a delight.
The last part of the afternoon included Sean’s photo op, which I was lucky enough to get. He was friendly with every fan, giving everyone a hug and asking how we were. He was even more charming in person than he is on the show and online, and many fans left the photo op in (happy) tears. I finished up the day by checking out the Vendor’s Room, where Propabilia had some amazing props from the show on display. They were there promoting their Once prop auction on November 3, and I have to recommend checking it out — they have truly unique items at all price points.
All in all, I had an amazing time at my first con. The community of fans surrounding Once is so unique, and I was glad to see it was still going strong a year after the end of the series. All the actors were generous with their time and seemed genuinely happy to be there with the fans. The con itself was also run very well, with minimal delays and great communication. I hope that we will get more opportunities to revisit Storybrooke in the future at another convention!