“Hocus Pocus” is a family-friendly comedy-fantasy film that tells the story of three witches who are accidentally resurrected in modern-day Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween night. The film’s plot centers around a group of kids and a teenage boy (trapped as a cat) who must stop the witches from carrying out their nefarious plans.
Here’s a brief overview of the plot:
The movie begins with a prologue set in 1693, where the Sanderson sisters – Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy) – are condemned as witches by the townspeople of Salem for practicing dark magic. Before their execution, Winifred casts a spell that will resurrect them if a virgin lights the Black Flame Candle on Halloween night during a full moon.
Fast forward to 1993, where we meet Max Dennison (Omri Katz), a teenager who moves to Salem from Los Angeles with his family. He’s initially skeptical of the town’s legend of the Sanderson sisters but is encouraged by his younger sister, Dani (Thora Birch), and his crush, Allison (Vinessa Shaw), to visit the Sanderson Sisters’ house. Max, attempting to impress Allison, inadvertently lights the Black Flame Candle, bringing the three witches back to life.
The witches are determined to regain their youth and immortality by stealing the life force of children in Salem. Max, Dani, and Allison must work together to stop them. They are aided by a talking cat named Binx (voiced by Jason Marsden), who was once a young boy cursed by the witches and now seeks to end their reign of terror.
As the night progresses, the kids and the talking cat engage in a series of comedic and supernatural encounters with the witches. The film culminates in a showdown at the town’s Halloween party, where the kids must outsmart the Sanderson sisters and ultimately defeat them.
The film blends humor, magic, and a heartwarming message about the power of bravery, friendship, and family. “Hocus Pocus” has become a beloved Halloween classic over the years, and its playful take on witchcraft and Halloween traditions continues to enchant audiences of all ages.
Know BEFORE you go:
Here are some helpful tips that you should know before you go, especially if you are visiting in October, otherwise you are setting yourself up for potential chaos.
Getting to Salem:
If you are not staying in Salem, and many people don’t, they stay in Boston, you can either drive, take the train OR take the ferry from Boston.
If you drive, make sure and download the “Passport Parking” app and load up your information and a credit card. The meters in the best lots use this for parking. You simply open the app, put in your parking area and then pay. Super easy.
Highly recommend getting into Salem as early as possible to secure a parking spot if you drive.
Pro tip: We arrived into Salem between 7-8am each day to secure good parking and it was already busy! As the day goes on, it gets busier and busier. We made a point to leave Salem no later than 12pm each day and the traffic coming in was backed up to Boston (over 20 miles).
Below is what Essex Street looks like before the visitors pack in.
When taking the train in from Boston, this should take about 30 minutes.
The ferry is about a 60 minute ride into Salem. Not the fastest, but more scenic. You can book the ferry here. Please note that the cost is about $25 one way and about $45 round trip/ per adult.
You could in theory avoid all of the traffic madness and stay in Salem, however, these rooms are booked out sometimes a year in advance.
An average of one million people visit Salem during the month of October. You will want to pack your patience for this trip.
Dining and Shopping:
There are no reservations during the month of October and there is a line for everything. We ate breakfast two days in Salem and had to wait in line long before they opened to get a table and the lines remained later into the day. Keep this in mind if you are wanting to dine somewhere.
Take note of the restaurant hours. We ate breakfast at ‘The Ugly Mug’ and they kept hours of 8am-2pm. Short window of time.
Also note – a lot of the stores in the area don’t open until 11am. I found this extremely odd since so many people were walking around and wanted in, but maybe there is a bigger reason for this?
The only way to use a restaurants bathroom is if you are a paying guest of a restaurant. I noticed on one receipt there was a digital code to access the bathroom.
However, there are port-a-pottys around the city that you can use.
There are also a couple public restrooms. Download the “Destinations Salem” app and you can easily get this information.
I will say, the best bathrooms we found were at the Peabody Essex Museum. You do have to pay to get in but the installations and art were great and definitely worth the visit.
Wear comfortable shoes:
You are going to be doing a lot of walking.
You will likely be tired from walking around all day, but Salem isn’t that big where the people are all visiting. I saw a couple benches at The Witch Museum for visitors and at the little park area across from the Peabody Essex Museum, but that was it.
Make an itinerary:
If you are trying to see more than the “Hocus Pocus” filming locations, PLAN AHEAD! For example, if you want to visit The With Museum, you can only get tickets DAY OF and they open online at 12am (midnight) and are gone almost immediately. You cannot purchase them in advance or at the door.
Filming locations from “Hocus Pocus” you can Visit:
If you want easier access to everything and don’t feel like trying to figure everything out on your own, highly recommend booking this walking tour. They cover “Hocus Pocus” and a couple other spots where famous movies were filmed in Salem!
It took me quite a while to plan this trip due to the logistics of traffic, opening times, not wanting to be around a ton of people, and to be able to enjoy the area I was at without having to rush so that people could take photos.
Salem Village – Salem Village, where Thackary Binx lived – 310West Ave
This is where the opening scenes are shot when Thackary awakens and Emily is missing. Also considered “Salem Village” has the townspeople always lived there.
Notes on visiting: They are only open on Saturday and Sunday from 12-4, from June 10-October 29. Extremely limited opportunities to visit. You can get tickets just by showing up.
Allison’s House – Rope’s Mansion – 318 Essex Street
This is where Max and Dani showed up and were surprised by the house, only to learn Allison lived here and her family was throwing a party inside.
This mansion is now owned by the Peabody Essex Museum and you can visit the gardens out back as well.
There will not be any on street parking, but the house is close to the main area of Salem, so plan to walk there.
Old Burial Hill – Cemetery – Orne St. Marblehead, MA
When Max is riding home from school he is met with two bullies who ultimately steal his shoes.
This location is not in Salem and I did not get the opportunity to visit, but if you have time, you should.
Old Town Hall – Halloween Party – 32 Derby Square
This is where the famous Halloween party took place in town! Most notably, where Winifred sang “I put a spell on you.”
You can easily walk by this as it is right in the heart of Essex Street where most people are visiting.
Salem Common – N Washington Square
Here is the scene where Max was riding his bike and caught up with Allison after leaving school. She ultimately gave him his number back.
High School – across from Salem Common
Arguably one of the coolest scenes in the movie was shot here where the kids think they burned the sisters in the school and the green smoke flies out of the chimney.
The school is not a functioning school anymore, but you will see it right across the street from Salem Common, which like a park but not. It is more like a big patch of grass in the middle of a neighborhood.
Max and Dani’s House – 4 Ocean Drive
Away from the downtown area of Salem, but not far, is the house that was used as Max and Dani’s. This house was shockingly small but after re-watching the movie, I suppose it did not look that big to begin with.
Please note: this is someone’s house and a private neighborhood. When we went, the street was blocked off and we had to walk to get there. Be respectful and get in and out because it is a neighborhood of other residents as well.
This article has affiliate links to products and services we love, which we may make commission from