“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!”
Hoop Dee Doo Revue
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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…
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!”
Tasty and tender Smoked Barbecued Pork Ribs complete the entree offerings. (Keep the Moist Towelettes close… you’re gonna need ’em.)
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).
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.)
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…”
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!