LINCOLN — Witches are running “amuck, amuck, amuck” in Lincoln, as filming begins at Chase Farm Park this week on Disney’s “Hocus Pocus 2.”
Drivers who use Great Road/Breakneck Hill Road (Route 123) were advised to seek alternate routes Monday through Wednesday, when filming was scheduled to take place at Chase Farm. Traffic will be stopped completely, at unannounced times, for several minutes during filming.
Chase Farm Park, a town-owned property, is temporarily closed. No visitors were given access to the park from Oct. 25-27.
The Breeze broke the news in July of Disney’s plans to film in Lincoln, when a location manager for the Disney company Fairy Dust Productions appeared before the Town Council to share their proposal for the farm.
Alex Berard said they were drawn to the “old New England farm look” of Chase Park. While there were only a few dozen crew members there during the set build-out, he anticipated closer to 200 during filming days.
Over the last several weeks, a 1600s New England village has risen up at Chase Farm, outfitted with several building facades that give the illusion of an authentic colonial town.
Berard indicated that (spoiler alert), one of the facades would be lit on fire for a scene, but it’s unclear whether that is happening, or if they’ll use special effects. The Saylesville Fire Department did not confirm whether they’d be on set by press time.
Filming was expected to occur in the early morning or late at night.
The Rhode Island Film and Television Office confirmed last week that filming had begun in R.I. on Oct. 18, and was expected to continue to the end of the year.
Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are reprising their roles as the Sanderson Sisters. In “Hocus Pocus 2,” “three young women accidentally bring the Sanderson Sisters back to present-day and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on the world.”
Director Anne Fletcher said in a statement, “Now more than ever, people need to laugh. We should be laughing every day, and there is so much fun to be had with these three unbelievable women playing delicious characters from such a beloved film.”
“I am so grateful to be able to play a part in bringing these witches back to life, and to be working with my friends at Disney again makes it all the more special. This is a movie for everyone, from the fans who grew up with the first film to the next generation of viewers, and I can’t wait to get started in the beautiful state of Rhode Island,” she said.
Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film & TV Office, said the state is fortunate to have superb partners in the public and private sectors, working together to “build a positive environment for the creative economy to shine.”
“We are particularly grateful to Walt Disney Productions for providing good paying jobs for many local artists and hard-working technicians from across Rhode Island. Collaboration is key to the art of cinema and we look forward to helping the “Hocus Pocus 2” team produce movie magic here in the Ocean State,” he said.
Gov. Dan McKee said he’s proud and honored to host the filmmakers, adding that film and TV productions like Hocus Pocus 2 have “positive impacts on our businesses and move our economy in the right direction.”
Other set locations include the La Salle Academy, and the Cranston Street Armory in Providence.
Local eateries were hopeful for an uptick in business as filming began, though most of the owners interviewed by The Breeze said they hadn’t experienced a noticeable on Monday morning surge from crew members or people coming to catch a glimpse of the set.
Kathy Hartley has seen an influx of people to the area of Chase Farm, which was once her grandfather’s land. Hartley is president of the Friends of Hearthside, a nonprofit that offers programming at the historic Hearthside House next to Chase Farm.
Hartley said more and more vehicles have been parking at Hearthside to walk over to the set. In doing so, she’s glad they’re discovering Hearthside, stopping to read the interpretive panel in the yard.
The home was open for tours on Sunday, and turned away dozens of cars trying to park there to see the set.
She said there’s no doubt the set has attracted lookers, including “Hocus Pocus” fans from across the country. The film, she said, has a cult-like following. One fan tried to impersonate Hartley to gain access to the set. Others have climbed trees and fences, or slithered through the grass — prompting filmmakers to up security.
She expected the site to be closely monitored this week. It’s unclear whether the film’s lead actresses will be shooting in Lincoln.
Hartley said her late grandfather would have been thrilled to see Disney filming on his farmland, recalling fond childhood memories of watching The Wonderful World of Disney in color on Sunday nights.
When filming wraps, the buildings will be taken down.
Long after the set is dismantled, “this will forever impact Great Road,” Hartley said. “It’s putting Lincoln on the map … it’s a historic event.”
Lincoln will receive a $25,000 payout from Disney for hosting.
Filmmakers can use the park until late November, according to the location agreement, and may return for up to 18 months after that to shoot additional scenes as needed.
The film is set to debut in 2022.