During a February 10, 2008 interview on the BBC show "Breakfast", Bette Midler stated that this was her favorite of all of her films. Her other favorite film role, according to her autobiography "Bette Midler: Still Divine," was voicing the poodle Georgette in Oliver & Company (1988).
Disney bought the script in 1984, then sat on the project for eight years. The original title was "Disney's Halloween House" and was supposed to be much darker and scarier. Rumors that Disney considered turning it into a made-for-TV movie at one point have spread over the Internet, but have not been confirmed by the cast and crew.
Sarah Jessica Parker plays a witch who was executed during the Salem Witch Trials. While researching her family history for the show Who Do You Think You Are? (2004), Parker was shocked to discover that her 10th great-grandmother, Esther Elwell, was arrested in Salem, MA in the late 1600s for committing "sundry acts of witchcraft" and choking a neighbor to death. Esther's case never went to court, she escaped with her life and the accusation ended the Salem Witch Trials. Parker said, "It has changed everything about who I thought I was."
Sarah Jessica Parker has said that she found being in the flying broom harness so comfortable that, instead of being lowered back to the ground during the extended downtime between certain takes, she would stash a copy of the New York Times on her person to read while remaining suspended in the air.
Several scenes appear in the original trailer that are not included in any theatrical, VHS, or DVD version of the film. They include the kids attempting to push the witches into a pool, the witches being surrounded by trick-or-treaters holding out their hands, and Mary snacking in a grocery store only to be dragged out by Winifred.
Contrary to popular rumor, the song Sarah Sanderson sings from the sky was not written by Edgar Allan Poe, nor does it carry the style or meters he would have used. It was written specifically for the film.
The city of Salem, Massachusetts used the film as a theme for the opening parade of their 2018 Haunted Happenings, to coincide with the film's 25th anniversary. The local National Parks Service office made a doll of Winifred dressed in one of their uniforms, while the Saltonstall School made a float based on Thackery.
When Bette Midler takes the stage at the town Halloween Party, she says "Hello Salem, my name is Winifred. What's yours?". This is a take-off of the famous line, "Hello world, my name is Rose, what's yours?" spoken by Mama Rose in the musical "Gypsy". Midler played Mama Rose in the television version, Gypsy (1993), the same year this film was released.
Rhythm and Hues, who created the CGI Thackery Binx, went to great lengths to ensure that his facial features were those of an actual cat. The studio found it too realistic, notably the fangs and teeth, and felt that he might be too scary and sinister. To make him appear friendlier, Rhythm and Hues made his fangs smaller and less pointed.
Although not specified, it makes sense that Binx can't speak until the Black Flame Candle has been lit, and then, only with those involved in the lighting. Otherwise, he would've been able to talk to his father at the hanging at the beginning of the film, or at the Town Hall when Max tries to tell the crowd that the Sanderson sisters have returned.
The three little girls who steal the witches' brooms from in front of the house are dressed as the sisters themselves: Winifred has red hair and a green cape, Mary has black hair and a red cape, and Sarah has blonde hair and a purple cape.
David Kirschner and Mick Garris, both of whom had collaborated with Steven Spielberg in the past, set the project up at Disney in the mid-1980s. Garris and Kirchner pitched "Hocus Pocus" to Spielberg, who turned it down. He had no intention of working with Disney, which he saw as his biggest competitor. Spielberg eventually collaborated with the Disney studios within a few years, but by the time this film was made, the filmmaker had long abandoned it.
Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson) and Penny Marshall (the Master's Wife; the Master being played by her real life brother, Garry Marshall) also worked together on The Hard Way (starring Michael J Fox and James Woods). Marshall was Angie and Najimy was Lang's Girl Friday.
There were seven statues made of Bette Midler for the scene in which she bursts in the sunlight toward the end of the movie. One of the statues, along with Winnie's spell book, is housed at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Orlando, Florida.
After locking the Sanderson sisters in the school kiln, the three kids celebrate as they walk to the park. The house directly behind Max and Thackery while they talk was also used as Thora Birch's home in 1999's American Beauty (1999).
To free Dani, Max uses Daylight Saving Time (though he calls it "Daylight Savings Time") as an explanation for an early sunrise. Under US Daylight Saving Time rules in 1993, clocks were set back one hour to Standard Time at 2 AM on the last Sunday of October. The last Sunday of October in 1993 was Halloween. So, in one sense, he's correct: On November 1, 1993 Sunrise in Salem, MA was at 6:17 AM while on October 30, it was at 7:15 AM.