I would consider it a difficult task for anyone to say that he or she is a Disney neurotic without having seen the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Thinking back on my first viewing of this musical theater extravaganza, I remember my 2 1/ 2 year old daughter standing in her chair dancing, while my “grown” 6 year old son tapped his shoe in tune with the music. We all had a hooping and hollering good time and left very full from the all-you-can-eat dinner.
This year the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue finds itself turning 40 and still going strong. D23 makes the claim of the Hoop-Dee-Doo as the longest running musical in American Theater. In 2010, the number of guests viewing the show bypassed 10 million! Let’s take a look at how this enduring show got its start.
Built in 1974, with over a thousand hand-fitted white pines sent by railroad from Montana, Pioneer Hall originally was intended as a lounge and restaurant where visitors could hear lectures and view nature films. Due to the cost of the building, Card Walker (a Disney Executive) decided this idea would not generate enough capital and turned the project over to Bob Jani, Vice-President of Entertainment for Disney Parks. The Entertainment Division wanted two important changes over Imagineering’s original designs: thinning the wide stone pillars throughout the theater and narrowing the wide balcony with multiple rows of tables down to one row of tables. With these changes, the Entertainment Division felt they created an audience friendly musical theater.
D23 informs us the first shows in Pioneer Hall were performed by the Star Spangled Washboard Band, a New York based band. With these first shows, the all-you-can-eat menu also made its debut. Disney executives desired a more permanent show and auditioned college students from their summer internship program, while a western themed musical concept was created under director Larry Billman and songwriter Tom Adair. To tie in with a Disney theme, the show features Davy Crockett in many scenes. The show became known as Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and debuted in the summer of ’74 as a rousing success! When summer ended, the students headed back to college, but Disney wanted the show to go on and held auditions among their regular performers.
The show remains the same as it did from its inception with two exceptions: 1) Until recently, audience members would stand on their chairs and wave their checkered napkins high in the air; however, Disney eliminated this practice due to liability issues. 2) The original Hoop-Dee-Doo theme song Tom Adair wrote parodied a Perry Como song, and although Tom states he and Perry had many laughs about the parody of a song Como actually hated, in 2011 Disney changed it. Other than these small changes, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue has gone on the same for 40 years.
Though very rarely will you find anyone complaining about the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue show, some critiques exist regarding the price of admission (seats range from $35- $59 depending upon location and viewer age) and the slow service due to the large number of tables. Reviewers often suggest The Whispering Canyon Café at Wilderness Lodge for better barbecue, laughs, audience participation, at less of a cost.
On the official Disney Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue website you can find seating, ticket, and menu information.
Original edited by Karen French, ELA Professor Navarro College