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Emma: The first time you and I connected. You remember that? Not met, but connected.
Henry: Yeah.
Emma: Where was it?
Henry: My castle.

Emma Swan and Henry Mills src

The Castle Playground, also known as Henry's Castle, is a Storybrooke location featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the first episode of the first season.


During First Curse

Henry, when he wants to be alone, goes to a castle playground near the sea. After bringing his birth mother, Emma, to Storybrooke, as he believes she is the savior of a curse, Henry notices nothing changes and time remains frozen as usual. Disappointed, he disappears the next morning. While Emma searches for him, his teacher, Mary Margaret, suggests he might be at the castle playground. There, Emma returns Henry's fairytale book that he had left in her car. He relates his beliefs about Emma, as the savior, would change things in town. When Emma rejects this idea, Henry guesses that she is pushing him away, out of guilt, for having given him up at birth. He believes Emma did this to give him his best chance, which she confirms to be true. Desperately, Henry begs her to stay for one week to prove the curse is real. He also doesn't want to go back to his mother, Regina, but Emma reasons that her own life is worse since she was abandoned on the road by her birth parents. Still, Henry insists her real parents put her through a wardrobe to save her life, but Emma doesn't believe him. Later, she takes Henry home. ("Pilot")

Emma, distrustful of Regina, decides to remain in town for a week to ensure Henry is living a good life. At the playground, the boy announces to Emma that he found her father, Prince Charming, in the book. Believing the prince is a coma patient under the name John Doe, Henry wants Mary Margaret, who he insists is Snow White, to read to the man. He considers the fact both Prince Charming and John Doe have the same scar, and his theory that the curse is keeping the couple apart by putting the prince in a coma. Emma is skeptical, but she agrees to ask Mary Margaret. ("Snow Falls")

Following Graham's death, Henry guiltily feels responsible since he told him about his past life before the curse, and believes Regina killed him. Meeting at the playground, Emma hands Henry a walkie-talkie so they can always keep in touch during Operation Cobra. Instead, he gloomily suggests they stop with the operation since Regina murdered Graham and he does not want to the same thing to happen to Emma. ("Desperate Souls")

To keep the book from falling into Regina's hands, Henry buries it at the playground. Presumably, at some point, August takes the book just before Regina orders a demolition team to tear down the area. Henry, hearing of Regina's plans, rushes to grab his book, but he finds the castle partially damaged by a storm. As Emma suggests asking for Marco's help in fixing it, Regina arrives and cites safety reasons for removing the playground, Emma dislikes her decision and secretly teams up with Sidney to investigate. ("Fruit of the Poisonous Tree")

After First Curse
Stuck in Peter Pan's body, Henry is desperate to convince Emma that he and the villain switched bodies. As proof, she asks him to name the very first time they connected together. Henry quickly recalls the moment, at the playground, when he understood she gave him up at birth for a better chance at life. ("The New Neverland")


Filming Locations


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


  1. Gittins, Susan (December 9, 2011). YVRShoots – Once Upon a Time is Fall TV's Biggest New Hit. “I have watched a few Regina vs Emma confrontations being filmed already, the latest in an epic windstorm at Garry’s Point in Steveston last month. Henry’s castle had been damaged and I’m not alone in suspecting Regina is behind it.”
  2. Gittins, Susan (March 31, 2012). SHOOT: ONCE UPON A TIME's Neverland at Steveston's Garry Point Park for Season Finale 2×22 – Updated. Hollywood North.
  3. Gittins, Susan (January 23, 2014). SHOOT: ONCE UPON A TIME Films Jared Gilmore & Colin O'Donoghue at Steveston's Garry Point Park. Hollywood North.
  4. InstagramIcon.png curban56 (Karen Gallagher). September 29, 2016.  "Today's walk 🎬" (archive copy)
    Once Upon A Time shoots scenes for episode 608 in late September with Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Jared Gilmore and others.. Canadagraphs (October 28, 2016). “Once Upon A Time shot a scene for episode 608 in Richmond not far from their usual "downtown Storybrooke" location in Steveston. In this scene, there was Jared Gilmore as Henry Mills, Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan, Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen and Lanas [sic] stand in as Regina Mills.”
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