It’s been several years since I last saw the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness. In the intervening years, there was a copyright battle involving the show’s trademark song, with the outcome that Disney can no longer use the same opening act. I went in this last weekend with one thought on my mind: does the revised show still stand up on its own?

The answer is a qualified yes. Yes, the show still serves as a vehicle for the independent (and uneven) performances of the individual cast members. Those who shine because of their comedic timing or penchant for physical comedy will still look like breakout stars. Those with less polished stage presence are sufficient in the show but they do not “make or break” the experience.

“Yes” also because this is one of those meals at Walt Disney World which stands out as truly unique. The servers plunk down metal pails at your table filled with ribs, fried chicken, and all manner of fixings. It’s done with a theatrical flair which shows the all-or-nothing attitude behind it, and in this case it certainly works to take the “no holds barred” approach and letting the experience be very different (as opposed to familiar and thus safe). For those who haven’t seen it, I should probably mention that the show encourages not only wild swinging of napkins, but also the playing of washboards by small children. The idea is to be raucous and to get the audience in the same mood, and by all accounts this still happens. It’s a fun show with plenty of audience interaction, with even a few audience members brought up on stage for the final number.

The final reason to say this is a qualified success is that the replacement song is fully competent and obviously written by professionals. It did not have the flavor of something hastily thrown together, and fit quite well with the rest of the show. That’s the good part. But I said this was a qualified success, and the qualification comes partly from the fact that this competent replacement song only goes so far in matching its predecessor. Put simply, it’s just not memorable. Five minutes later, I would not have been able to tell you the refrain in the song, and so I do feel something has been lost in the show overall. In the previous incarnation of the show, everyone knew the title song by the end, and moreover, everyone could hum it even days later. You might even be humming Hoop Dee Doo to yourself as you read this.

I didn’t look up how much I paid for the show last time, but this time around tickets were $70 per person (we were in the Category 1 floor seats). I happened to go with a cast member, meaning we were able to realize a 50% discount by going to the 4 PM show. At $35, the experience is eminently worthwhile. You get the engaging and fun show, and you get an all-you-can-eat meal including dessert. That alone would be worth $35, but the show has one more trick up its sleeve: unlimited refills of Bud Light or sangria included in the price.

Seen in this light, the cast member discount represents a real bargain. I’m less certain that the show would be a bargain, even with free alcohol, at the full price. Can you drink $30 worth of alcohol in one sitting? Possibly, but your task is made harder by the compressed timeframe. We were not let in the door until a few moments after 4 PM, and it obviously took several minutes to see everyone. Our server and the show took turns battling for our attention, and the show was over by about 5:40, with the doors opened and everyone ushered politely outside. The meal is definitely all-you-can-eat — there was ample opportunity and offers to bring more food to the table. But Disney is wise not to advertise it as all-you-can-drink, because everything happens on such a tightly orchestrated schedule that there is little time for inebriation. I’m fine with that on lots of levels, including the family friendly vibe they are looking for, but I did want to point out that the alcohol should not represent a major portion of the value of the ticket.

In the end analysis, I think this show is still worthy of a look but someone who has never been, even at the full price ticket. Some folks will absolutely find value in repeat visits, though it certainly looks like Disney is trying to find the price point where the number of repeat visitors is far from 100%. And I do miss the title song.

Are you a Hoop Dee Doo fan? Do you feel the show is a value at $70?

More information and updates

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History. Readers are invited to connect with him online and face to face at the following locations:

  • ParkerMonroe

    Once, when I was very young (about 30 years ago), I was chosen to be the sheriff in the closing number. I can still remember the back stage room. I was fawned over by a handful of the actresses, duded up in sheriff’s regalia, then directed out to the stage… where I promptly broke down into tears.

    (On a side note, the extremely large and muscular man they chose to be the ballerina was an unequalled success).

    We’ve gone back a number of times since then but I haven’t seen the show since the mid-nineties. I think I’m due for a return visit.

    Thanks for a nice summary of the recent changes, Kevin!

  • ttintagel

    You might even be humming Hoop Dee Doo to yourself as you read this.

    Totally. And I didn’t even realize it until you said so.

    • Asterix

      I was humming it too!

      and I saw it a LONG time ago.

      Last time my friend went to Florida he called me and said “you and I have to go to WDW specifically to see Hoop De Doo. That’s tops on the list.” We’re planning to do just that in October.

  • I was humming along too!

    I must say that this is one of my favorite WDW experiences, though I haven’t seen it since they removed the namesake song.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    Walt Disney always felt that music can be an critical tool to tell a story and create a mood. I loved the original show too. The song definitely was impacting to people judging from the comments.

    I can remember the first time I heard the Main Street Electrical Parade. The tune was a major part of my enjoyment of the parade. If I were in charge, I would have them write still another tune for the show, as the current one does not seem to carry the same impact. Lately, Disney has not been willing to put the same emphasis on the importance of music. I would hope that they see the treasure they have in the Hoop Dee Doo show and try to keep it that way.

  • StevenW

    I’ve seen it before and it was a big disappointment. Sorry, I will dissuade others from seeing it. The food is mediocre, and the show itself is short and forgettable. The performances are annoying with the constant screaming of the blond. There were no elaborate preshow or post-show meet and greet.

    A better alternative is Medieval Times or The Pirate Adventure shows. They are cheaper too. More opportunities to get drunk.

  • Fukai

    This used to be worthwhile when the prices weren’t insane. At $70 a person the prices are indeed INSANE.

  • KCmike

    $70 is way too steep a price for this show. I’ve seen it once when I thought the prices were around somewhere in the $50 range. That was pushing it. I will never do it again for that price. Good show, yes. Great show, no.

  • robbiem

    Great review. I always loved this show. We used to go by boat from the magic kingdom which made it even more magical 🙂

    I had no idea the price was so much now though

    Back in the 90s when we visited from England we could see this & the luau at the Polynesian for less than $70

  • Claybob

    Went about 8 years ago. Did the last show of the night and had premium seats at the edge of the stage. As we were seated, our host leaned over and whispered to me…”you’re in a really good seat…be prepared!” Yep, I was included in the show…although wasn’t brought up on stage, just refereed to all night. Had a dancer wrap her feather boa around my neck, gave me a peck on the cheek, and kept mentioning me by name all night…I had a great time! But I think the best part was waiting for the bus afterwards. There was a family waiting for the same bus and they had been at the show. The youngest daughter saw me leaned over to her Mom and said…”Mom….look, we getting on the same bus as Clay!” She was sooooo excited! For me, it was a combo “Disney Magical Moment!” Being singled out at the show and having that little girl be so excited she was riding on the same bus as me. I guess that is what Disney truly is all about…those magical moments!

  • StevenW

    I must also add that for the time that I saw it, I asked for a refund after 30 minutes. It was granted, but not after the manager insisted I have eaten the food and don’t deserve a full refund. I think I got a partial refund, 50%, and promptly left. I told them my wife already left the building and won’t return. I was severely disappointed. I could not believe how bad it was. Yet it is still here.

  • Country Bear

    I must say that we have really enjoyed the show on every visit to WDW. We certainly aren’t expecting high-end entertainment (like a Broadway show), but we do expect to be tickled and this show has been successful at that every time. I think the food is acceptable (we actually enjoy some of the components of the meal a great deal) and the non-stop sangria is a definite highlight. We have always sat in the front and have been charmed by many of the cast members at each show. Although I can be highly critical of WDW for so many things, I believe this experience is one of the best of any WDW vacation. We will do the show everytime we visit because it makes us feel good and there are so few things at WDW that have that impact on us anymore (due to declining by degrees). I feel the same way about the Luau show; sure it’s tacky, but it’s fun! I have always purchased the shows on the Disney Dining Plan so I have not directly found the pricing to be unreasonable. I do think that I would pay $70.00 for it though as a special treat. I wish Disneyland had something like it as we visit there more often. It’s corny, feel good fun!