Everything You Need to Know About Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is home to one of the cheesiest displays at Walt Disney World; it’s also one of the best. Since September of 1974, guests have known where to go for grub and gags. Three times a night, hundreds of Disney guests enjoy the show, one that hasn’t changed since its inception. Truly, this production has stood the test of time. Here’s everything you need to know about Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
The Oldest Show Anywhere
In 2014, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue celebrated its 40th anniversary. At the time, Disney suggested that they’d put on this show for more than 10 million guests over the course of 37,000 performances. Those numbers have increased since then because the venue holds 362 seats, and cast members perform three shows a night. Since the venue generally sells out, more than a thousand new (and returning) guests watch it each day.
Disney estimates that it’s one of the longest running dinner shows of all-time, possibly THE longest. The two-hour production represents an amazing combination of showmanship and food service. As the crowded house watches the entertainment onstage, servers deliver a jaw-dropping amount of food.
We’ll get to the precise numbers in a moment, but what’s important for now is that Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue serves all-you-care-to-enjoy (AYCE) food for the entire table. Guests get heapin’ helpins of frontier-style favorites for a set fee. Is the dinner show worth the money? Before I answer, let’s talk about what you get here.
Food and Fun
Yes, that’s the premise of all dinner theater establishments: food and fun. Disney has mastered the craft with Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. Starting in June of 1974, Disney auditioned and chose three men and three women to play the six roles in the show. The applicants were all members of the 11-week college workshop program that Disney operated at the time. They weren’t even full-time cast members, but they quickly became a part of Walt Disney World folklore.
The genesis of the show involved the building that hosts it, Pioneer Hall. Disney built the facility before anyone had a firm grasp on what it would contain. Bob Jani, the man in charge of Disney theme park entertainment at the time, came up with the idea of a dinner show. He hired writer Larry Billman to write a timeless show that would feel right at home 50 years earlier. Given the fact that cast members recite the same Hoop-Dee-Doo dialogue today, Billman clearly did his job extremely well.
Most Disney guests have at least a passing familiarity with the basics of the show. You can actually watch it in its entirety on YouTube. If you’re old enough to know what Hee Haw is, you have a firm grasp of the underlying concept. Hoop-Dee-Doo is a silly song-and-dance show where people in Davy Crockett-era outfits tell the corniest jokes this side of Golden Girls reruns.
The belief is that once you sit down at the table here, you’ll smile from start to finish of the show. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the notion. My in-laws beamed with joy when they realized that they were celebrating the longest anniversary of anybody at the meal that day. A little girl who got called onstage for the final number was so excited that she forgot to sing or dance. She just kind of shook with excitement for five minutes. It was GLORIOUS. Hoop-Dee-Doo is undeniably cheesy but if you buy into the bit, you will have a blast.
Hoop-Dee-Doo by the Numbers
Over the years, Disney’s been unusually forthcoming about the inner workings of Hoop-Dee-Doo. They’re understandably proud of what’s effectively a giant mess hall. Disney is hosting a buffet for a thousand guests each night, and it requires a LOT of food.
For example, the entrees at Hoop-Dee-Doo are chicken and pork. In a single night, Disney serves 900 pounds of chicken and 400 pounds of pork ribs. The meal also comes with fixin’s. Those vittles are corn, mashed potatoes, and baked beans, basically everything you’d expect at a campfire meal. Cast members prepare 30 gallons of baked beans, 120 pounds of corn, and 400 pounds of potatoes each night.
Finally, Hoop-Dee-Doo made its biggest change all the way back in 1979. For the first five years, Disney served apple pie for dessert. It even came with its own theme song, Apple Pie Hoedown. Nobody ever quite liked the pairing of apple pie with the rest of the meal, so Disney replaced it with the now-legendary Strawberry Shortcake. In the process, they also had to add a new song, Strawberry Short Cake Walk. Disney now serves 15 gallons of strawberries and 12 gallons of whipped cream to make the dessert something unforgettable.
The Cost Evaluation
Disney features three different dinner shows. Well, they have Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Show plus Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. They also have a third evening entertainment event that serves food called Mickey’s Backyard BBQ. It’s a bit different than the others, but we’ll group everything together for now for price/value comparison purposes.
Each dining event costs about $70 per person for the best seats. As of publication, the two offerings at Fort Wilderness are $72 per adult and $43 per child aged 3-9 for Category 1, which I’ll explain in the next paragraph. Spirit of Aloha has some variance, ranging from $69.99 to $73.99. So, we’ll call all of them equal on pricing. Note that these prices include tax and alcoholic beverages plus tips. The price you see is exactly what you’ll pay for your meal.
Understanding the Categories
All three dinner shows have cheaper seats outside of Category 1. What does this mean? Well, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and the others ARE dinner shows. The people who sit front and center get a better view of the proceedings. There’s no such thing as a bad seat at Disney, however, which means you can save money by sitting further back. And at Hoop-Dee-Doo, that’s not even a bad strategy.
Category 2 seats generally have good views and, almost as importantly, the guests seated here are much less likely to get invited to participate in the show. So, introverts should consider Category 2 or Category 3 if you don’t want to get called up to the stage. The views at Category 3 are generally off-center and in the back, which isn’t ideal. At Hoop-Dee-Doo, you also might wind up on the top floor, which never bothered me but your mileage may vary.
Category 2 seats are $69 per adult and $39 for children, a savings of $3-$4 per person. Category 3 seats are $64 per adult and $34 for children. So, a family of four with two adults and two children under 10 would save a total of $14 for Category 2 seating and $34 for Category 3 seating. You can tell by the price difference that Disney believes Category 3 has the largest issues with good views.
Pricing Evaluation and Disney Dining Plan Thoughts
Is seeing the show from up close worth another $14? I would say absolutely yes. Is it worth $34? Well, that’s where the conversation changes. Now, the answer depends on your budget for the trip. My family has found Category 2 to be the sweet spot for Spirit of Aloha and Hoop-Dee-Doo. Yours might feel otherwise.
The one other factor to consider is that Hoop-Dee-Doo participates in the Disney Dining Plan. For a cost of two Table Service entitlements, you can enjoy a meal at any of these three shows. While I maintain that’s not the best use of Table Service credits on the regular Disney Dining Plan, it’s a terrific deal for the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (DDDP). You likely have more Table Service entitlements than you can use in this version of the program, so Disney shows are a wonderful option. Every time we’ve participated in the DDDP, we’ve attended at least one Disney show. It’s an automatic choice for us.
So, is Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue worth your time? The answer is yes, and I say that firmly. Parents in particular should take their children to see it at least once. That way, half a century from now, the children can take their own kids to the show. Then, they can say, “I remember when my family took me for the first time…” That’s the beauty of a dinner show was such remarkable staying power. No, the meal isn’t cheap, but you get a lifetime of memories for $70. It’s hard to quibble over the price.