ONCE UPON A TIME is an enchanting animated tale about a beautiful girl named Maria and her little blue dog, Bello. When her widowed father remarries, Maria is mistreated by her wicked new stepmother and meddlesome stepsister. One day while walking in the forest, Maria meets a handsome Prince disguised as a hunter. He leaves her with a garnet necklace as a memento of their chance encounter and a symbol of his undying love. Later the Prince announces plans to marry the unknown girl with the garnet necklace. Young maids throughout the land come to the castle with hopes of being selected. The Prince will have none of them. But alas, the necklace has fallen down a well and the two sisters plunge headlong into a magical world beneath the water to retrieve it.