Who: Lori & Monica
What: A day of debauchery
Where: Salem, MA
When: October 8, 2016
Why: Disney Witches
Sites Visited:
Hocus Pocus:
     Max's House
     Allison's House
     High School

Hocus Pocus. I don't get it. Millions of people love it; many of those people are my friends. I somehow missed the boat. 

I was 11 when the movie came out, a few months away from starting 7th grade. On vacation with my parents, my mother found out it was playing at a drive-in movie theater and forced us all to go see it -- because drive-in movie theaters, in the only world in which my mother lives, were designed for "families." 

I think it was about 10 minutes into the movie when my brother and I made a break for it to sit on the trunk of the car and watch a silent showing of Jurassic Park playing on the opposite side of the field. 

So Hocus Pocus was never my thing. 

Over 20 years later, however, Monica, no stranger to a TV Travel (Washington D.C., Chicago...) found all the addresses to the movie's houses and suggested we take a 3-hour road trip to Salem. She would drive. She would plan. I could just sit around and look pretty. Let's do it!

October 8th was the agreed-upon date and like the A-student I am, I gave the movie one more go, if only to grab screen shots from it every 6 minutes. It was a cute little movie, a jolly good time, and I know if I were 11 again and had no basic cable, it might become one of my favorites. At 35, in the year, 2016 though, I'm pretty good with what I got. 

Let's go meet the Sandersons! 

We arrived in Salem close to 12pm and first on the list was the old-timey village of Thackery (not Zackery, as told to me by Monica many, many times) featured in the beginning of the film. In the middle of Forest River Park, the Salem Pioneer Village is located behind a gate and wooden dividers, only open to the public on certain days.

Today was not that day. Monica, in her zest for movie stalking, tried to open the wooden doors and couldn't do it. I tried to peer over the gates and failed. Several other onlookers tried to stick cameras in between the boundaries and didn't seem successful. Ain't nobody getting into 1693 in 2016.

Yes, 20. 

In my day, I have been to a lot of major houses -- you can try to beat the Full House house, but you won't succeed. It's a legend. -- But when I dragged my friends through a residential neighborhood on the streets of San Francisco for my one selfish photo, we were the only ones there. I have always been the only... one... there. 

(Hocus Pocus Max house location)

Never underestimate the power of the Sanderson sisters.

There were groups across the street. There were groups hanging out front. There were people who would walk up, snap a pic quickly and leave. It was the tourist attraction to end all tourist attractions. And it was absolutely beautiful. 

Normally, in my pansy-ass state, I stand in front of each TV/movie house waiting for the moment a homeowner comes out at me with a shot gun (#bronxlife). But in the land of Hocus Pocus, there is safety in numbers. 

Monica got her pictures, as did I and we took notice of the tree that was not there 20 years ago but stands there now getting in the way of our perfect comparison shots. I also noticed the addition added to the top of the house behind Max's. 

(Hocus Pocus Max house location)

Once we got what we came for, we made our way back to the car and Monica made a passing comment about the crowds to a guy standing outside of his house. "It's like this every day, no matter the season," he told us while chugging a juice smoothie and holding onto a dog. Never one to miss out on useless trivia from someone willing to give it, I decided to chat this dude up like he held the secrets to all of life's mysteries. 

During our convo, I learned:
  • The hype around the house only started about 5 or 6 years ago. Maybe it's because of all the showings on ABC Family, maybe it's the Internet, he has no idea. 
  • An older couple owns the Max house and aren't too into all the Hocus hype. Teenagers knock on their door all the time and want tours. The couple doesn't want to give them (I get it.).
  • The watchtower on the top of the house was added by Disney soley for the film. .  
The dude's name is Chris. He's in a horror rock band and was in the Ghostbusters movie as the seller of Ozzy Osbourne merch. He's worked on haunted houses. He used to live in California. He has a very cute dog. The conversation was flowing like the Mississippi River and all I could think about during our chat were all the other bloggers on earth who mention meeting random strangers and then somehow have photos with these complete nobodies to back up their stories. How do they go about doing this? I wondered. Who asks regular people they meet on the street to just pose with them for photographs? That makes no legitimate sense.


(Hocus Pocus Allison house location)

Open every weekend for self-guided tours, the mansion, on the day we were there, was filled to the brim with onlookers taking pictures and inspecting the property. Of those dozens of people, I would say about 3 of them had any interest in Mr. Ropes and his rooms full of China; the rest were there for Hocus Pocus. One person stood on the line to get in but when the poor suit-wearing 20-year old guarding the front said the movie wasn't filmed on the inside, they left. The rest groaned but went in anyway. 

Once we had seen enough ancient bookcases and toilets, Monica and I tried to take photos outside the mansion while avoiding all the Hocus Pocus stalkers posing as history buffs. A stroller then got in the way of Monica's shot and people kept crowding the doors, so we decided to leave the place with a solemn vow to return once the mansion's museum hours were done. 

Back in the car, we found a garage that charged $5 for 12-hour of parking (hells yeah!) and made our way into the downtown area where Halloween isn't just a holiday, it's a lifestyle. 

Michael Myers just hangs on the street.

You can stand with a goblin and get locked in a dungeon.

And the most famous TV witch is memorialized in bronze.

In addition, there are swarms of costumed people everywhere, funnel cake galore, and a haunted house every 2 feet. For $20 Monica and I decided to experience at least two of those haunted houses, while I got the added experience of hearing Monica scream every two seconds like she was auditioning to be the next Jamie Lee Curtis. In real life, if someone even tells me a story about someone who looks at people funny, I won't sleep for weeks. But walking in the dark with masked teenagers chasing me holding chainsaws, I'm totally cool.

Monica on the other hand...

Once the haunting was done, Monica tried to repair her damaged vocal chords and we visited the Salem Witch Memorial which beautifully paid tribute to the 20 executed victims of the Salem witch trials with benches that were covered with coins, and flowers from family members who knew way too much about their lineage.

(Hocus Pocus High School location)

... and then made our way out to get this one:

(Hocus Pocus High School location)

During the process I would say about six or seven people showed up to also take pictures, because while Salem is the home of multiple, multiple attractions, the only ones that apparently matter are people's private homes and abandoned buildings.

With daylight turning into dusk and the open house of the Ropes long past, we trekked on back to the home of Allison to get the shot we knew we were capable of.

(Hocus Pocus Allison house location)

Shout out to the marked-up road that allowed me to stand in the street to photograph the entire house without fear of my body being slammed against a speeding Prius in the mist of our photo shoot. 

Also, a shout out to Monica, who reminded me about the spot where Thora Birch cried, and who made me take a photo there. When another 20 years pass and I happen to see the movie again, it would really bother me to realize I'd missed a photo opportunity (although looking back, it seems she told me the wrong sided fence. Nice job, Monica!! Sheesh...)

(Hocus Pocus Allison house location)

Once that was done, we had completed all we had set out to do and after 4 miles of walking, we made our way back to the $5 parking lot and headed out of the bewitching city to the less spooky region of the Bronx. In seven hours we had managed to conquer stranger danger, Massachusetts pizza, over 40 wax figurines and a sea of costumed teenagers, but at the end of the day, we knew none of that really mattered. 

It was all a bunch of hocus pocus anyway. 

Thanks, for the memories Salem!!