It would have been totally different, which is the idea. I don't know why they felt the need to do that huge time jump that was only a time jump for some characters, and then there was time travel so that it was a time jump but not really because it was set in the same time. If I'm being uncharitable about their creativity, I'd say that they only had one trick in their writing book, and they weren't creative enough to find a way to play on their set-up and themes without doing a carbon copy of season one. They could only do the kid shows up and says "You're my parent" story that maps to season one. Aside from that reason, I wonder why they felt the need to age Henry beyond Jared. I know that one of the reasons they dropped most of the cast was that they would have had to negotiate new contracts, and there are certain raises built into the union rules before you even start negotiating, but there are a lot of variables in play. Would the new adult actor have been that much less expensive than re-signing Jared? Or were there other expenses related to having a minor? I know there has to be on-set tutoring and they can only work so many hours. But then they had Lucy, so they still had the minor issues.
In my fantasy season 7, we still get the "you're my parent" scene, except it's cursed teen WHenry, who's found the storybooks, approaching cursed WRegina, thinking he's Storybrooke Henry and she's Storybrooke Regina.
There was also nothing keeping them from being with their real loved ones, the way there was in curse one. Jacinda and Henry had no other entanglements under the curse that kept them from being together. Sabine had the same personality as Tiana, so she and Jacinda were still friends. It wasn't like Red and Snow being so drastically changed that they had nothing in common until Emma showed up and the curse weakened enough for them to start becoming more like their real selves. And, as we saw in this episode, apparently they were all able to keep their stuff from their home world. A lot of things, like Hook's hook, ended up in Rumple's evidence locker (even though he had nothing to do with the curse), but then somehow Remy was able to hang onto a magic bean?
The other issue is that the nature of the curse and the reasoning behind it was so unclear. Curse one was actually a curse. It was a punishment designed to make people suffer, so it ripped them from their lives and put them in an entirely different place, in situations designed to make them miserable, with personalities that were different from their real selves, separated from their loved ones. We later learned that the memory part of it was separate (I wonder if that was a retcon when they re-cast the curse in season 3), but in season one, it kind of worked that "breaking" the curse was restoring them to their true selves. Emma had already broken the frozen time by coming to town, and there was some gradual weakening, but the final straw was them getting their memories and personalities back, so they could be reunited with their loved ones and start having some control over their lives.
The season seven curse doesn't work quite so well. Even when we learned the reason behind it, it made no sense. Gothel didn't seem to have any particular reason why she needed to drag all those people with her. She was punishing the entire planet, not really those specific people. She could have accomplished her goal more easily with a magic bean, Pan's shadow, Wish Jefferson's hat, or one of the Sorcerer's doors. The only reason for the memory changes was possibly to keep them from opposing her (but, again, why bring the people who might oppose you with you?). Everyone was pretty much their usual selves, just without the knowledge of being from another world. Nothing kept friends or families apart. They weren't miserable. That meant that breaking the curse wasn't very dramatic. Most of our characters already had their memories. It amounted to "Okay, I'm actually married to this person I'm in love with." It seems that in this curse, breaking it gave the magical characters their powers back, but, again, why put that in the curse, other than to keep these people she didn't have to bring with her from opposing her?
But I think most of this problem was due to the storyline being heavily altered along the way. Gothel showed up fairly early in the season, but I suspect her role shifted once they decided the stepmother/stepsister story wasn't working so well. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to have put a lot of thought into the random explanation they came up with for the events they'd already written.
We don't know if they went back to their time or just went to the place, but at the same time, so they were living in the past while they were also there as kids (or however the timeline worked -- Anastasia died before the first curse would have been cast, so Drizella should have been at least 50). The whole timeline is going to collapse when redeemed Drizella intervenes in her past self's life to keep her from going down the wrong path.