Great Road in Lincoln is a lovely place for leaf-peeping and for two days, celeb sightings. Back in May, Disney+ shared that Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy would reprise their roles as the Sanderson Sisters in the live-action comedy Hocus Pocus 2, the sequel to Disney’s beloved 1993 Halloween cult classic Hocus Pocus. According to a release, in HP2, a trio of young women accidentally bring the Sanderson Sisters back to modern day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches.
Standing in for Salem is idyllic Chase Farm Park, a former dairy farm purchased by the Town and preserved as a green space for events and activities, known to nature-lovers for its butterfly garden maintained by volunteers. Currently the grounds host a modest village of building facades, constructed by a crew over 10 weeks to look like a New England village circa 1600s. By the time this magazine goes to press, the two days of filming will have commenced and, according to a town council meeting, a controlled burn will have occurred.
The usually sleepy Route 123 has become a bit of a tourist attraction thanks to the movie set and Ryan Welch was one of the first fans to get a glimpse. A news photographer at WPRI, 92-ProFM, Hot106, and LiteRock105, Welch shares, “I get to play with cameras every day for my job, but I record the real world – imagine what it’s like to work with a team to create a story and location from scratch?”
While Chase Farm Park is only 15 minutes from Providence, Welch had never been but when location rumors were confirmed, he and his boyfriend set a course to explore. “It’s a beautiful rolling landscape of green grass, trees, walking paths, crisp air… a nature paradise. We parked our car and set off on the walking paths. It wasn’t long before we saw the piles of lumber and wooden structures,” he says, noting construction was in the early stages – and admitting to multiple returns since.
“Successfully creating a film such as Hocus Pocus 2 isn’t accomplished lickety-split via a magic trick — instead, it requires the hard and innovative work of professionals at splendid studios such as Disney and public partners such as our state’s Film & Television Office,” states Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. “We’re excited that Rhode Island will again be in the spotlight because of this production, helping to attract tourism and yet more business activity to our beautiful state.”
The highly anticipated Hocus Pocus 2 is set for a 2022 debut. “I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises of the movie for myself or anyone else; I just want to go to be inspired. To see the action of a job that I dream to have one day myself: utilizing a camera to bring a concept and story to life in a large production film. We’re the smallest state, but many people I know here have the biggest dreams, and seeing the set of this movie popping up in real life right here in Rhody shows that those dreams may not be as far as we think,” Welch reflects wistfully. “I’ll say it, this experience put a spell on me.”
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