Review: The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Campground

“Let’s raise the roof and have a HOOP-DEE-DOO! And let’s have a good time tonight — YES, SIR! — We’ll have a good time tonight!” 

That’s right, friends… we’re back at the one, the only HOOP-DEE-DOO MUSICAL REVUE!

In fact, a trip to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds to see the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue — one of Disney World’s three dinner shows — has been a must-do experience for many Disney World guests over the Revue’s 41-year run, as evidenced by the fact that year after year many families make a point to mosey on over to Pioneer Hall to enjoy this quintessential Disney World tradition.

Let’s find out why!

Atmosphere and Show

In 2014, The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue celebrated its 40th Anniversary. While that’s quite a milestone in and of itself, Hoop-Dee-Doo also has the distinction of being one of the longest running dinner shows in the United States. And its home is Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness, the Disney World campgrounds.

Pioneer Hall

Pioneer Hall

Just stepping into Pioneer Hall is a special experience. The rustic woods and high ceilings soar over the grand hall. Front and center is the vaudevillian-style stage, which sets the scene for the “Fine Singing! Fancy Dancing! and Fun for All!” you’re about to enjoy.

Pioneer Hall Stage

Pioneer Hall Stage

Hoop Dee Doo Sign

Hoop Dee Doo Sign

Live musicians provide accompaniment to a group of six performers onstage: a traveling troupe — as the story goes — of Claire de Lune, Johnny Ringo, Dolly Drew, Six Bits Slocum, Flora Long and Jim Handy. “Ladies and Gentlemen… the Pioneer Hall Players!”

The Pioneer Hall Players

The Pioneer Hall Players — “We’ll sing and dance and holler, here we go!”

Mixed in with the storyline are standards of Americana like Oh, Shenandoah, This Land is your Land, Oh My Darlin,’ Clementine… not to mention Six Bits’ very unique rendition of Beautiful Dreamer :) .

Now, if you saw Hoop-Dee-Doo prior to late 2011 and haven’t been back since, you may be surprised to hear a few different tunes. Certain songs such as the old “Hoop Dee Doo Polka” were eliminated from the show due to contractual, copyright, and legal issues. I have fond memories of the previous version and personally preferred it, but it’s still an very enjoyable show overall, and anyone visiting for the first time won’t know the difference.

And though the show itself has changed, the Pioneer Hall Players and musicians who perform the Revue three times nightly (showtimes are 4 pm, 6:15 pm, and 8:30 pm) still give it everything they’ve got, embodying that Disney magic that is alive and well at Hoop-Dee-Doo.

Throughout the show you’ll receive plenty of invitations to do some hootin’ and hollerin’ of your own! A few audience members are even pulled from their seats to reenact the tale of Davy Crockett.

Audience Participation

Audience Participation

Don’t care for the limelight? Just don’t look anyone in the eye as they search for participants if you don’t want to be part of the show ;). (And, of course, you can certainly decline if you ARE chosen.)

Speaking of audience participation, it’s a Hoop-Dee-Doo tradition to share the spotlight with a couple in the audience celebrating their anniversary.  In my first review of the show, the selected couple had been celebrating their special occasion at Pioneer Hall every year since the show started! Here’s the happy bride and groom on the night of my more recent visit.

Anniversary Couple

Anniversary Couple

Even if you’re not into being part of the performance, there are still plenty of moments to clap along, wave a napkin or two, or maybe even get to play a washboard to finish out the evening.

Hoop-Dee-Doo Washboard

Hoop-Dee-Doo Washboard

Before we move on to what’s cookin’, I’d like to share my thoughts on Category Seating at Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue. You may have noticed that my pics of the show on this visit are taken from an above angle. You have your choice of being seated in Category One, Two, or Three when you make your Advance Dining Reservation (prepaid in full, tax and gratuity included). I was in Category Three seating. Category One is the floor seating, while Categories Two and Three are upstairs. There is a price difference, of course.

Various seating arrangements

Various seating arrangements

Table Setting

Table Setting

I won’t ever choose Category Three again, and I wouldn’t recommend it for anybody unless you absolutely can’t see the show otherwise. Here’s why: while the view of the show itself is fine, Category Three tables face away from the stage, so you only get to eat during breaks in the show…while facing the wall. Yeah — you FACE THE WALL. And there’s nobody on the other side of the table. There’s an economy of space up there, so the servers need the remaining room. So there’s just one, wierd, long, banquet table up there with people only seated on one side. And it’s the wrong side when you consider you’re there to see a show that’s happening behind your back. Once the show starts up again, you swivel around to watch.

Category Three seats facing away from the stage

Category Three seats facing away from the stage

It’s simply easier to enjoy your meal throughout the entire show in Categories One and Two. You paid for all-you-care-to-eat food, and a lot of it is mighty tasty, so it’s well worth it to pony up for Categories One or Two (Category Two is also upstairs, but the tables face the stage).

Still, even upstairs, no matter where you sit, you’ll get a special visitor by your table at some point during the show.

Claire de Lune

Claire de Lune stops by during the show

Altogether, it’s high-energy family fun in an absolutely classic Disney setting.  But let’s not forget that this is a DINNER show… and as ol’ Six Bits himself will ask when you’re in the audience: “Are ya hungry?” 

Eats

The sign outside Pioneer Hall promises that it’s “All-You-Can-Eat Home-style Vittles” at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue! So let’s hunker down and see what’s for dinner…

Hoop Dee Doo Menu

Hoop Dee Doo Menu

As the song recommends: “Eat up! It’s good for you; there’s lots of food at the Hoop-Dee-Doo!” 

Be sure to drink up, too, because beverages are unlimited. And YES, this does indeed include the beer (Bud Light or Yuengling Draft) and Sangria.

Sangria

Sangria

While we’re on the subject of drinks, I do feel the need to note an issue with my server. Before the show, I made a stop downstairs at Crockett’s Tavern (the bar at Fort Wilderness) to select a drink other than those they serve during the show. However, they started letting people in for the show while I was at Crockett’s, and the bartender informed me that I could ask my server to bring me a drink from the bar and I could pay for it separately upstairs. When I asked my server, he told me that they only served beer, wine, and sangria and it wasn’t his job to go downstairs to get another drink. (Yes, that’s honestly what he said.) While I totally understand that he’s busy, he didn’t have to be rude. Additionally, I wish the bartender hadn’t told me that it was commonplace for that sort of thing to happen.

Back to the eats, though… Your meal starts with the House Salad, and you’ll notice a trend from the very first setting: just about every dish is served in a hefty, cool, I-wouldn’t-have-it-any-other-way tin pail, all set for family-style serving among your group.

Salad

Salad

Nice and fresh with a dressing that resembles that served at a certain Italian food chain ;), it’s a pretty good salad. But it’s the House-made Corn Bread that standouts for many guests (myself included).

Cornbread and butter

Corn Bread and butter

I can think of very little that beats eating Fried Chicken pretty much anywhere at Fort Wilderness (it’s on the dinner buffet at Trail’s End Restaurant, and available through P&J’s Southern Takeout), and that’s no exception at Hoop-Dee-Doo.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Crispy skin with juicy meat, it wasn’t voted “Best in the Wilderness” for nothin’ (at least, according to the sign that used to hang outside Pioneer Hall :) ). And remember, “If you eat it all up, you gotta yell for more… More chicken! More chicken! More chicken! LET’S EAT!”

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Tasty and tender Smoked Barbecued Pork Ribs complete the entree offerings. (Keep the Moist Towelettes close… you’re gonna need ‘em.)

Smoked Barbecued Pork Ribs

Smoked Barbecued Pork Ribs

Moist Towelette

Moist Towelette

Creamy Mashed Potatoes and the beloved Cowboy Beans (Baked Beans with hints of pork and onion) are your sides to the main meal, along with Corn (which falls under the Seasonal Vegetables category listed on the menu, I presume).

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Corn

Corn

Did you save room for dessert? Let’s hope so, because the Strawberry Shortcake served at Hoop-Dee-Doo is so good it gets its own song! (And keep an eye out, because you may even see your server join the kick line onstage before delivering it to you.)

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

It’s not a bad grand finale! But now, as the end of the show goes, “Merrily we move along, we’re going to leave you now…” 

Overall

Yummy comfort food and a truly entertaining show… all at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds — one of the few original Disney World Resorts that Walt Disney himself approved. I can’t lie — the less-than-stellar service on this trip and the crummy seating (IMHO) upstairs did mar my experience this go ’round. But overall I feel that the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue is still a Disney World tradition that I can recommend. Just follow my advice regarding Category choices (or, don’t be as high-maintenance as I am), and you should be in good shape.

Now, getting to Fort Wilderness is not quite as easy as hopping on the nearest stagecoach. You have to do some extra planning and allow for plenty of time. Options include boating or taking a Disney Transport Bus from Magic Kingdom or Wilderness Lodge, or boating from the Contemporary Resort. Though the boats are your better bet because they bring you directly to the area where Pioneer Hall is located, buses do run from Fort Wilderness back to the Magic Kingdom where you can get catch transportation to your home Resort. In fact, on a recent visit, I noticed buses coming directly to the Pioneer Hall area for Hoop-Dee-Doo guests, though I’m not certain if that is always an option. Parking is also available at Fort Wilderness for guests with Advance Dining Reservations, but be sure to tag on at least 20 minutes to get to Pioneer Hall, as parking is at the opposite end of the Campgrounds where the Resort guests check-in for their stay.

So, yes, you have to do a little extra planning to get there and back. But for 40-plus years, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue had been worth the trip, and I think that remains the case today.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue part of your Disney World traditions? Please let us know with a comment below!

Comments

  1. Matthew says

    Thank you for the great review. After the show come out and make a right, Disney has buses to the area resorts example Epcot Area. The bus may make multiple stops but it will get you to the hotel.

  2. Susan says

    For my family, Hoop Dee Doo was a big waste of money. The food was not particularly yummy and the show was just ok. I also hated how the food buckets were SLAMMED on the table. Our table was one of the first to get food and I was shocked and startled. LOL I can laugh now but it disturbed me at the time. The nice server realized I wasn’t in to it and she toned it down.

  3. says

    That Category 3 seating is REALLY just not right. I mean, turn the chairs around and let the banquet tables face the show while you eat. Yes… you’ll have waitstaff walking in front of you constantly, but you’re there to “see” the show… not a wall. I guess I never took the time to really look up there and see what was going on but… it’s just strange. Good tip though! I guess Category 4 would be on the porch out front?

  4. Sara says

    When we went in December, the bus system would only take us to our “home” park for our resort, in our case, Magic Kingdom. We had to change buses then and catch another to our resort. I had understood that there would be buses straight to resorts, but that was not the case. It made for quite a late end to our night.

  5. Diane says

    I sat in Category 3 in Dec 2014 and 2015 and loved it so to each his own. You can only use Category 2 or 3 with the dining plan. A lot of the show is after we’ve eaten so we didn’t see it as awkward. We had Sixpence upstairs during the portion where they ask about who is celebrating a birthday or anniversary. My only slightly negative comment was I’d like more strawberries and a bit less shortcake.

  6. Essie says

    I went to this show twice years ago and it was the best! I’d actually be afraid that if I went now it would be a let down. It’s been so long that I’m afraid I’ll see a decline in the quality of the food and show. There are so many changes in WDW that have not been for the better, but seem to be a lesser alternative. And, I can’t imagine what the price is up to by now.

  7. Elizabeth says

    My husband and I have enjoyed the Hoop-Dee-Doo four times in the past seven years. It is truly a fun Disney experience. Members of our party have ordered special drinks and paid a separate tab. We have never had bad service. We must have great luck because members of our party have been taken on stage twice. It is a must do for anyone who has not been yet.

  8. Michelle P says

    While we don’t do New Year’s Eve every year at WDW, when we do – we’re at the 8:30 show! We had a great time last week, and were thrilled when we could request some mac-and-cheese off the kids menu in addition to all the other yummy stuff.

  9. Cartier says

    My daughter and I loved Hoop-Dee-Doo. I just wish that they offered substitutions for the ribs and beans. We don’t eat pork so we kinda didn’t get out bang for our buck in the food department, but I’ll definitely go back. The show was great.

  10. Trisha says

    We were just there in October. It had been over 15 years since I had last been, it was my husband and kids first. We were seated on the floor towards the back, but still had a good view of the stage. Our server was really accommodating and super patient with our 3 boys (ages, 9, 5 and 3). I enjoyed the show and the food. Maybe we had such a good time because it was our first night of vacation? :)

  11. Stacy says

    My husband and I ate here for our anniversary not to long ago. We were on the bottom floor, under the balcony, and to the right of the stage. This is where the waiters come out of the kitchen and where they take dirty dishes. It was very hard for us to hear the show because of the banging buckets, plates, glasses, and the chat between the servers.! I didn’t enjoy eating from the metal plates, I felt it gave the food a weird taste. Glad I experienced it, but I don’t need to do it again.

  12. NancyB says

    I had my first experience at Hoop-Dee-Doo in September, at the early show. The balcony wasn’t open at all and not all of the main floor tables were full, but they still managed to cram us in at a table in the front corner on the far right, like another commenter (though we weren’t under the balcony). It was a very poor angle on the show, mostly staring at the musicians.

    The food was plentiful and perfectly OK, but nothing was exceptional. The shortcake serving was huge, but the strawberries looked like they were straight from a (defrosted) freezer bag. Our server worked at it but his jokes mostly seemed pretty tired. The performers just lacked some energy, maybe because the crowd was small.

    I don’t think I’ll go back–this is one of those Disney traditions where I just can’t see the love.

  13. Anastasia says

    I will also speak up for Category 3 seating. I thought the set up was great. Food is only served when the show isn’t really going on (excepting dessert) so we didn’t have to choose between the show and eating. Plus the chair completely swivels around so you still have a great view of the stage.

    And honestly, I didn’t even notice the wall when I was turned away from the stage. I was focused on my dining companions and my food!

  14. Ellenough Haggerty says

    Very poorly run checking in. Long line with paper check in…made people wait outside in the heat once you got your ticket . There has gotta be a faster more high tech and family friendly way to organize this.

  15. NENolan says

    We’ll be doing this for the first time this October. My husband wants to try it. We’ll also be staying at the WL so I believe there is also a boat that will take from there to FW. If we’re ever going to do it then this will be the time staying so close.

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