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I hate audience participation. I’m the one slowly sinking into her seat if a volunteer is needed. I’m the one hoping and praying I’m not asked to come up on stage. Pick anyone but me, please! I beg you! When I finally scored a hard-to-get reservation for the one and only Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, you bet I picked the balcony.
It’s on the second floor (not wheelchair accessible as you do have to walk upstairs), and it’s overlooking the stage. It’s going to be perfect: me up here, the show down there, and a plate of fried chicken and ribs in front of me. No participation, no performer interactions (I’m socially awkward), and no chance of being singled out!
Boy, was I wrong! Well, I was kind of wrong. I did have one lucky break, but more on that later.
After arriving at Pioneer Hall for the 8:30 pm show, I checked in through my phone, so they knew I was there. Little did I know that while this works great for other sit-down restaurants on property, it does not apply at Hoop-De-Doo.
You still need to stand in line to check in because they hand you a slip of paper with your table number, and then depending on your number, they direct you to stand either on the left or right side of Pioneer Hall. I stood on the right side, along with my fellow anti-social patrons who would also be going up to the balcony. A cast member came outside and explained…something. I think. He was yelling towards the floor seating crowd to the left, so I couldn’t really hear what he was saying.
Once the doors opened, we went inside and were directed accordingly. I walked up the stairs and was pointed toward the left side of the balcony. Another cast member then directed me to my seat, where appetizers were already waiting for me. Salad, coleslaw, cornbread, oh my!
Once seated, my server greeted me and handed me a menu with a list of everything that would be served, along with all the beverages available, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. While it is true that the price includes unlimited beer, wine, and sangria, it’s limited to what beer, wine, and sangria are listed on the menu. I feel like this detail goes unmentioned in reviews. Each alcoholic option only had two choices.
The show begins, and I am hooked after the opening number! It’s fun; it’s campy. It’s lively, and funny. It’s everything I didn’t know I needed that evening. I love the cast, I love their outfits, and I am ready for a good time….from a distance up in the balcony. While watching the show, several performers made their way onto the floor and were briefly talking with guests, occasionally having a spotlight turned on them. “I’m glad I’m up here!” I thought to myself. Until…
“So where ya from?” a voice said to me.
I suddenly panicked, wondering if I was about to have a spotlight pointed at me and everyone in the hall looking in my direction. I turned to my right, and standing next to me was Dolly Drew, one of the performers. (My plan backfired! I didn’t think they’d come up here! How’d she get up here anyway?)
I told her I lived in Florida and had a brief interaction.
Fortunately for me, she was looking for guests, not from Florida. Dodged that bullet because she found some guests two tables down from me, and the spotlight was pointed at them, not me. That could have been me! I’m glad it wasn’t me!
After a few musical numbers, the music quieted, and everyone began on their main course. I dove into my fried chicken, ribs, side dishes, and cornbread. I debated if I could eat straight from the serving dishes since it was only me at the table, but I remembered my manners and scooped servings onto my dinner plate (my mother is going to read this, so this is for her. Hi Mom!). Once stuffed, I moved everything to the side and turned back around to people watch on the main floor.
“So how ya liking the show?” came a squeaky voice, again to my right.
(How do these performers get up here? And why do they keep finding me?)
Stunned again, I turned, standing next to me; also people watching from the balcony was Claire DeLune, another one of the performers. I told her that I absolutely love the show, it was everything I was hoping it would be, and now that we’re on the subject, I loved her dress. We talked briefly before she continued on down the balcony talking with other guests.
At some point during the dessert course, I talked to yet another performer, Flora Long. If you’re keeping score right now, it’s Hoop-De-Doo: 3, Liz: 0. My plan to avoid any interaction with the performers completely backfired. And it’s about to get worse.
The final song is a very rousing number where they hand out washboards and spoons. I watched from the balcony as they were handed out to tables on the main floor. I smiled and clapped along, feeling secure that I was safe from audience participation this time. When suddenly, I hear a clunk on my table. I turn around, and staring at me is a washboard and a spoon. They want me to join in. I’m expected to join in. I don’t want to do it, but peer pressure is going to make me have to do it. “Oh no.” I thought to myself.
Well, if ya can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
I picked that washboard up and played my heart out. I strummed and played along to the beat, even adding a quick second beat with the spoon. I’m now a pro at this point. Everyone’s playing their washboards, and the performers are walking around clapping, even on the second floor, and at that moment, I tossed my cares aside and played along with the best of ’em. Live in the moment!
The show ended. The hall erupted in applause as the performers took their bows. I finished the rest of my strawberry shortcake and then turned back towards the stage, soaking in the last moments of this fantastic dinner show before I caught the bus back to my cabin. Later, I bought the washboard magnet as a souvenir. I had to! I don’t plan on playing it, though.
So anyway, long story short: nowhere is safe from audience participation or cast interaction in Pioneer Hall during a performance of Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. Not even the balcony.
Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is a 2-hour dinner and show at Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Showtimes are 4:00 pm, 6:15 pm, and 8:30 pm. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made via the Walt Disney World website or MyDisneyExperience mobile app.
Costs range from $66 to $74 for adults and children 10 and up, depending on the seating category, and $39 to $44 for children ages 3-9. Price includes tax and gratuity. Plant-based menu options are available upon request.