A Dinner Show That's
a Hoop Dee Doo!

by Debra Martin Koma
AllEars® Senior Editor

Feature Article

This article appeared in the December 11, 2001 Issue #116 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

I admit it -- I normally prefer my humor a little more high-brow, my cuisine a little more "haute." But the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, one of Walt Disney World's longest running dinner shows, had me doubled over with laughter, and groans, and enjoying plain old country-style fare in spite of myself on a recent visit.

Performed twice nightly in Fort Wilderness Pioneer Hall, the Hoop Dee Doo is well-known and beloved by many for its vaudeville-style shtick - no joke too slapstick, no pun too lame, for the crew of six players. But even if this singing and dancing, hootin' and hollerin' is not usually your cup of tea, I think you'll find yourself enjoying the show, along with an abundance of salad, fried chicken, barbecued ribs, corn, baked beans, and strawberry shortcake.

The fun starts when you arrive at Pioneer Hall, a rustic replica of an Old West dance hall, made of white pines shipped all the way from Montana. After you check in with the reservations desk, your photo is snapped for future purchase (about $20 for the package of one large and two
smaller photos), and you are eventually ushered to your seats inside. The interior of the hall is as authentic as can be, with luxurious red velvet curtains and a well-varnished wooden stage. Off to the right of the stage
are the musicians, a dapper pianist and banjo player who accompany the performers impeccably.

The Pioneer Hall Players include three couples - Everybody's Sweetheart Flora Long and her beau, Jim Handy, the handsome cowboy; dancers Claire de Lune (she of the squeaky, tuneless voice) and Johnny Ringo; and the down-home comic relief of Dolly and Six Bits Slocum.

There's no plot to the show, and it's not sophisticated humor, by any stretch - this is just an old-fashioned, G-rated, good ol' time. Once everyone's seated and has had a chance to start on the salad and rolls with honey-sweetened butter, the group introduces itself with a rousing opening
number and mingles a bit with the audience. After another musical number, they leave the stage to allow dinner to be served.

The all-you-care-to-eat dinner is slammed on your table in old-fashioned pails - the fried chicken is moist, the ribs a bit smoky. Side dishes are served in the same way - slow-cooked baked beans and corn seasoned with onion and green pepper bits. For choosier children, the servers are more than happy to bring a variety of kid-tested fare - macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are available upon request.

If the tall Mason jars filled to the brim with icy water aren't enough to slake your thirst, your server will bring you the beverage of your choice: lemonade, milk (white and chocolate), soft drinks, iced tea, coffee, or wine (including cabernet, white zin, chardonnay and sangria!).

As the main course draws to a conclusion, the entertainment swings into high gear. The performers return to engage the audience in celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and mingle once again with the crowd, not forgetting those seated at the upstairs tables. Folks celebrating anniversaries are serenaded with "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and are encouraged to take a few dance steps together. Finally, a rousing rendition of Woody Guthrie's
"This Land is Your Land" gets the audience really cheering, twirling their red gingham napkins wildly overhead.

Servers are in on the joke just as much as the on-stage performers. During a recent visit to Pioneer Hall, the server at the table next to ours was overheard asking one woman if she had enough chicken. "Would you like another breast, Ma'am? Oh, I'm sorry. I suppose it's rude to ask a woman if she wants another breast." Later, the same server asked if the woman was wearing prescription glasses. "If so, you better keep those glasses on, or else the prescription will run out!" Loud groans ensued.

On-stage, the performers are clearly enjoying hamming it up - especially as it becomes clear what their personas' relationships are. Dolly clearly is sweet on Six Bits, who is clearly sweet on Claire. When Dolly insults Six Bits with
the line that he has a "tin ear", he retorts, "better than having a wooden chest."

After a version of "Clementine", dessert is brought out amongst much fanfare and chorus line-style high leg kicks - including from the servers! Dishes of delectable strawberry shortcake smothered with whipped cream are plonked on the table, and as you gobble up this grand finale (with coffee
if you want it), the players enact theirs - a tribute to Davy Crockett that includes the participation of several audience members. Remem -"bear" to listen for all the terrible bear puns as the mini-play concludes - don't be
em-"bear"-assed if you find yourself laughing and groaning un-"bear"- ably!

As the show draws to its end, servers run through and distribute washboards for the final number so that everyone can join in and make as much ruckus as possible.

Maybe the Hoop Dee Doo Revue is not for everyone, but for those who don't mind their ribs barbecued, their chicken southern-fried and their humor corned, the Hoop Dee Doo is a Must-Do.

ALL EARS TIPS:

Buying Tickets: Reservations can be made up to two years ahead of time, and it really pays to book early! Tables are assigned in the order in which reservations are made and, since there is seating on two levels, reserving early helps ensure seating on the main floor, rather than in the balcony. Shows can sell out during busy times of the year, like around the holidays.

Ticket Prices include tax and gratuity included. Discounts are sometimes available, either to American Express cardholders, or annual passholders. Be sure to ask when you call. See our general Hoop Dee Doo Revue page for current prices.

Call 407-WDW-DINE to make reservations.

Special Diets: The Hoop Dee Doo Revue will accommodate your special dietary requests (vegetarian, diabetic, etc.) if you call at least 24 hours in advance. Make your requests at 407-824-2803.

How to Get There: Fort Wilderness guests may board the internal bus to the Settlement Depot. Guests staying on Disney property can drive, take the boat from the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge or Magic Kingdom or take a
bus from the Ticket and Transportation Center.

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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.