Halloween in Salem: Exploring Real Life Hocus Pocus Filming Locations
It’s hard to believe that the now beloved Halloween classic Hocus Pocus hit theaters 21 years ago (boy do I feel old!). Hocus Pocus is one of those rare movies that grows on you more with each viewing. The gorgeous setting in Salem, the crisp fall colors, trick or treating, all the Halloween magic…it brings up so many good memories of Halloweens past, and hence, why it is so popular with so many people today (especially us 90’s kids who grew up with the film).
Fans of the 1993 Halloween classic Hocus Pocus will at some point want to make a trip over to Salem, Massachusetts to explore several of the filming locations used throughout the movie. Many of the most notable locations in the cult classic including Max and Dani’s house, Allison’s mansion, the high school, and the Sanderson Sisters Cottage are real sites within Salem. An incredible feeling of nostalgia sweeps will hit you as soon as you see the actual filming sites (which look completely the same today).
The Halloween season just isn’t complete without a viewing (or several!) of this 90’s favorite. It’s crazy to think that this movie was once shunned by critics, not to mention a complete flop at the box office. It is now becoming more and more of a holiday favorite, thanks in part to social media and repeated airings on the Disney Channel throughout the month of October. I find myself watching it at least 3 times each Halloween season! And if you haven’t seen this fun & festive story about a trio of 17th century witches who are brought back into the 20th century yet, you truly are missing out! So do yourself a favor and check it out this October! It is destined to become your new Halloween favorite, which can absolutely be watched over and over again with each passing year!
Listed below are a few of the Hocus Pocus filming sites and where to find them!
Max & Dani’s House
One of the most recognizable locations from the film is that of the Dennison’s house (which still looks exactly the same today as it did in the early 90’s!). This beautiful little coastal house, built back in the 1870’s, is located right on the water (although you would never know this by simply watching the movie as the filming angle makes it look like it is in the middle of a neighborhood). Whomever owns this house is pretty lucky with those fantastic views of the coast from the lookout tower (didn’t everyone want Max’s cool room with the private staircase to the tower?).
Location: 8 Ocean Avenue Salem, MA
Note: This is a private residence. Please view and take photos from your car. Do not bother residents!
Another one of the most familiar scenes from Hocus Pocus is when Max and Dani accidentally run into Allison’s house on Halloween night while Trick or Treating, and thus, embark on the grand Halloween night adventure of accidentally setting the witches free. The beautiful Essex Street mansion, known as the Ropes Mansion, is a beautiful piece of colonial architecture. The home was originally built in the 1700’s and is now operated by the Peabody Essex Museum and is open for public tours.
Location: 161 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
Old Town Hall
A shot of Old Town Hall can be seen when the parents are arriving at the Halloween party. Built back in 1816, it still stands strong as the oldest municipal building in town. Today you can explore the Salem Museum. Additionally, during the Halloween season, you can enjoy live productions of “Cry Innocent” and “History Alive.”
Locaton: 32 Derby Square, Salem, MA 01970
The Sanderson Sisters Cottage/Opening scenes
Pioneer Village was used for scenes involving the The Sanderson Sisters Cottage. This picturesque village, which was created in 1930 in Forest River Park, was the perfect choice for the film as the real life village was constructed to resemble what Salem looked like in 1630. Weekend tours are available from June-September for just $6. Pioneer Village is known as the first living history museum in the US. Throughout the village, you will find many gorgeous examples of colonial architecture.
Location: 310 West Avenue, Salem, MA
Jacob Bailey High School
The old Phillips Elementary School where the high school scenes were shot has been closed for many years (it shut down a year before Hocus Pocus filming began). You will quickly notice the scenes from the movie where the exterior shot of the school was shown. In addition, the scene where Allison returns Max’s phone number was shot in Salem Common, which is a beautiful area just adjacent to the school.
Location: 283 Derby Street, Salem, MA 01970
Old Burial Hill
Old Burial Hill, located in Marblehead just 1o min from Salem, was used for filming the afternoon cemetery scenes. Built in 1638, it stands as one of the oldest graveyards in the US. Here you will find many old Puritan gravestones as well as beautiful views of the coast due to its’ prime location upon a hill. Like many New England graveyards it is very interesting, strange (and quite spooky) to browse around the old weathered graves. There are more than 600 Revolutionary soldiers buried at Old Burial Hill, although most of the gravestones are no longer legible.
Location: Orne Street Marblehead, MA
More Hocus Pocus fun
Asides from visiting the film sites, you can also check out the free Hocus Pocus movie screening, shown each year at Salem Common. Dress warm, bring a chair or blanket, grab a hot mug of coffee or hot chocolate, and watch your favorite Halloween classic outside in festive Salem: the cold weather, fall foliage, and old architecture create the perfect atmosphere for viewing this classic. Although this year’s screening has already passed, you can still start planning your trip next year by checking the Salem website for 2016’s lineup of haunted movie screenings throughout the month of October.
Other fun Halloween related events in Salem
In addition to exploring Hocus Pocus filming locations, horror fans (and anyone who just loves Halloween) will also want to stop by Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, which features wax figurines of all your favorite Halloween/horror movie characters including Winifred Sanderson from “Hocus Pocus”! The month of October is the best time to visit the museum as it turns into a terrifying haunted house experience by night. Imagine how creepy it would be to walk through a dark wax museum with realistic wax statues of Freddy Krueger, Pennywise, Jason, Michael Myers and more!
And while you are in Salem, why not explore a bit more? There is lots more to do, especially during the Halloween season where you will find a whole lineup of festive activities all month long! Be sure to check out Old Burying Point Cemetery, the Witch memorials, the 3D haunted house, the Mahi Mahi Haunted Boat Cruise, The House of Seven Gables, and shopping and dining on Essex Street. The Haunted Magic Show, ghost tours, special Halloween parties and dances, and entertaining shows will keep you more than busy all season long. Check out my Halloween in Salem article for additional details. Also be sure to check Groupon for special discounts off local cruises, restaurants, and attractions.
Have you seen Hocus Pocus? What is your favorite Halloween movie? Have you ever visited Salem, Massachusetts during the Halloween season? Share your comments below!