Disney’s Hocus Pocus 2, the long-awaited sequel to the perennial Halloween classic, debuts today exclusively on Disney+. The live-action comedy follows the wonderfully wicked Sanderson sisters—Winifred (Disney Legend Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy)—as they run amuck, amuck, amuck in modern-day Salem. Twenty-nine years have passed since someone last lit the Black Flame Candle, bringing the witches back to life—and now the sisters are back for more than revenge.
At first glance, it may appear as if the witches look exactly the same as they did when Hocus Pocus was released in 1993. For the sequel, however, the filmmakers wanted their costumes to look similar to the originals, but not be actual replicas. “We wanted to refresh their looks,” says costume designer Salvador Perez. “Plus, the witches disintegrated at the end of the first film, so they would need new costumes anyway.”
Perez and his team wanted to study the original costumes and conduct a detailed assessment of each outfit before they could reimagine and update them for the sequel. At that time, the costumes were on display at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle as part of the Walt Disney Archives’ Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume exhibition. “The original costumes are in the Disney archives,” explains Perez, “but there was only one costume for each actor.”
Following a close examination, Perez continued to do research to update the characters’ costumes. For Winifred, he painted her coat and embroidered it with metallic threads and crystals. The symbols on her dress are based on Wiccan mythology of three moons, which also symbolizes the three sisters. “I incorporated the eye to reference the Book of Spells, and the ravens on the coals are inspired by the Witch [Hannah Waddingham] who first appears as a raven,” Perez says.
Director Anne Fletcher adds, “The symbols on all three of the witches’ outfits, especially Winifred’s, mean something. In the 1600s, that version of witchcraft was tethered to the Earth, the ocean, the stars. It was all tied together. You can see it all reflected in things like Winifred’s cloak or in Mary’s rings.”
According to Perez, the buckle on Winifred’s coat includes a malachite stone from a jewelry store in Providence, Rhode Island, where the sequel was filmed, and the same jewelry store also provided the stones for her broach.