Thora Birch as Dani in the original Hocus Pocus

Here's The Real Reason Dani Isn't In Hocus Pocus 2

Thora Birch was supposed to have a role in the sequel.

by Ani Bundel
Walt Disney Pictures

Hocus Pocus 2 almost never happened. The original film was a box office flop, and despite it becoming a cult classic, it took almost 30 years for Disney to recreate its magic with a sequel. According to the film’s star, Bette Midler, nearly the whole cast wanted to make another, which makes one glaring absence all the more interesting: Thora Birch, who played Dani, the original kid who faced down the Sandersons. So, why wasn’t Dani in Hocus Pocus 2? It wasn’t because Thora Birch didn’t want to do it.

Warning: Spoilers for Hocus Pocus 2 follow. The new Hocus Pocus film began with the focus on a new set of residents in Salem: Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham). The three have been lighting candles in the woods on Halloween night for years. On Becca’s 16th birthday (also Halloween night), Gilbert, the owner of the local occult shop, sold her and Izzy a Black Flame Candle, secretly in hopes that them lighting it would bring back the Sandersons.

It worked, and the three friends had to team up as their own coven to defeat the witches. (Well, actually, it’s Winnie who defeated herself, but that’s another story.) However, considering all the callbacks to the original film, there’s one significant oversight: Where is Dani? Shouldn’t she still be in Salem somewhere, now in her mid-30s, with some advice on dealing with the real Sandersons among those dressed like them?

Chelsea Guglielmino/FilmMagic/Getty Images

According to Thora Birch, the original script did include her character. Multiple ideas were being kicked around for how Hocus Pocus 2 could bring back Dani, including her being a teacher who the teens turn to for help, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out. Birch told ET Canada in a recent interview, “By the time they got around to filming, I was already on something else.” She had already committed to working on a different project filming in the same time frame, “otherwise I was definitely going to be there on set with the girls.”

Despite not being in it, Birch promised she would watch the film. “I’m excited for the fans who have been begging for Hocus Pocus 2 for years,” adding that the original film “holds such a special place in my heart.”

Both Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2 are streaming on Disney+.