A must do is the Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue
One of the best traditions our family has done year after year is to always take in an evening at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue in the Fort Wilderness Campground at Walt Disney World. We have made it a tradition, because of the entertainment, the atmosphere and of course the food.
The Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue began entertaining guests way back in 1974 and has continued to do so for the past 40 years. With well over 35,000 performances and more than 10 million guests, the show is triumphantly one of Disney’s best.
Each time we attend, is like experiencing the show for the first time over and over again. From the moment the Pioneer Hall Players hit the stage, to the moment you taste your first rib, it’s like reliving the wondrous sensation of old vaudeville in a room full of friends.
My very first experience was in 1979, when at 5 years old I actually remember losing a tooth biting into an ear of corn (a story that still resonates throughout my family today). Over the years I was able to experience the show as my family grew. My girlfriend who became my wife, my sister and her family and my parents have all returned time and time again. My dad actually was pulled up on stage during the shows finale, as well as my brother-in-law in a later year. I think we have made quite a footprint indeed. The best experiences have been of recent, taking my daughter for the past 5 years. Reliving all the memories through her eyes and her emotions have brought a new meaning to the show.
So that’s a little history, but lets talk about the Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue itself.
This is a review of our last visit in October 2013.
To start off it’s always wise to book your show as far in advance as possible. Shows fill up quickly and you would hate to miss your chance to get a table. Retrieving your tickets is a breeze once you arrive at the Pioneer Hall, simply head to the ticket window attached to the outside and pick up your passes. Then all you have to do is wait…but waiting isn’t enough at Disney…you need memories…so be sure to take advantage of the professional portrait offered in front of Pioneer Hall as you wait. We have a family shot from each year, set in the old western theme and they are well worth it. Packages are about $30. There are some activities going on for the kids as well while you wait. My daughter enjoys the hula hoop contest.
Eventually the dinner bell rings and it’s time to enter the hall. Once inside, you realize how much fun is in store as you look at the old rustic wooden beams, the large gas lamp chandeliers, the great wooden balcony that wraps the room and the bright red table cloths topped with metal plates and red and white plaid napkins. It is straight out of an old family western. Once seated, you are met by your host or hostess, also adorned with the already established plaid motif. I will admit, these are some of Disney’s finest. They look out for you all through the show and they work extra hard, because they eventually become part of the show.
Your drink order is taken, where you can choose from the usual soda products, draft beer, wine, lemonade and my favorite…the ice cold sangria. All drinks are included with your meal.
After some pleasantries, your host starts what will be an endless buffet of great western home cooking. You start with a fresh garden salad, which is crisp and cold inside a rustic metal bucket. To sop up the dressing, you are sided with a delicious loaf of cornbread with butter.
Once settled, the fun finally gets underway as you hear the stage coach racing up outside. After some ruckus and a quick pound on the rear the doors, in come the Pioneer Hall Players. They know how to make a grand entrance as they stomp, dance and sing their way all over the room and eventually to the stage. Musical accompaniment is handled by two excellent musicians. Professor Tommy on piano and Smilin Jack on banjo. You would never know it was just the two of them, because they fill the room like a full country band.
Meet Six Bits, Jim Handy, Johnny Ringo, Dolly, Flora and Clair, some of the finest entertainers you will ever have the pleasure of laughing and singing with. They bring some down home family singin, dancin and comedy that keeps you on the edge of your seat through the entire show. You would never know you lasted 2 hours, because you simply want to stay for more.
The show is very interactive and the Pioneer Hall Players spend most of the show down on the floor interacting with the audience. With songs like “This Land is Your Land”, Shenandoah and “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”, the show never feels dull. Some of the best moments are during song interactions like “Oh They Come from all Over When They Come”, literally asking members of the audience what state they are from and then added amusing anecdotes on the fly. Birthdays, anniversaries and honeymoons are all celebrated with a romantic dance for the couples to “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”.
We always get engulfed in the show and we always forget that the main course comes piling in soon enough. As the servers make their rounds you are met with more metal buckets of fried chicken, BBQ pork ribs, corn, mashed potatoes and baked beans. When food gets served in a metal bucket and you have metal plates, it can make for a BANG that has made some jump from their seats.
The fried chicken is moist and flavorful, the BBQ rib meat falls from the bone and the baked beans have a great zing to them. Going home hungry was certainly not an option. Most of the time, we weren’t even asked if we needed more, they just kept dropping buckets of food in front of us. We were not disappointed in any way.
On a side note, our daughter is a very picky eater. She would not eat most items on the menu. After discussing it with our host, the chef was kind enough to come out, kneel down next to our daughter and personally put together a menu of hot dogs and potato chips just for her. This is one of those added Disney bonuses that really gives a personal touch. So be sure to always ask if you needed something special. Disney is the best at pleasing their guests.
The highlight of the Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue and what the show is most recognized for is desert. Some absolutely yummy homemade strawberry shortcake. It’s not only extremely delicious, but it’s served in a really fun way. Remember when I said your host or hostess works extra hard as part of the show, well they all appear on stage holding large trays of the sweet desert. They make their way down kicking up their legs in their best Rockette fashion to a very original Strawberry shortcake desert song. What you get is a huge portion of soft sponge cake smothered in strawberries and whipped cream. Eat what you can…if you left any room!
You get to enjoy desert while the grand finale musical number (The Ballad of Davy Crockett) is performed. The skit involves 4 people chosen from the audience. The Indian, the maiden , the hero and the angel…and trust me…they all bring their own hilarious personalities to the stage. It makes for a very memorable and entertaining performance.
Even though the meal was finished off with a relaxing hot cup of coffee, the entertainment wraps up in a huge song and dance exit. Everyone is given a washing board to scratch and bang to the music, while Six Bits, Jim, Johnny, Dolly, Flora and Clair gather the kids for a fun heel kickin Congo line around the room. It is a foot stompin, hand clappin, sing at the top of your lungs spectacular that literally sent us home in a fantastic mood.