Fifty Years of Hoop-Dee-Doo: A History of Disney’s Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

hoop dee doo musical revue cast

June 30, 2024

Written by: Jim Smith

(A version of this article was shared with Laughing Place and published on July 1, 2024.)

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is one of America’s longest running dinner shows of all time. This vaudeville style high-spirited music-and-comedy revue is happily paired with a fantastic feast, satisfying guests since June 1974. Now fifty years running, the timeless charm of Hoop-Dee-Doo continues to add magic to Walt Disney World each and every night.

What exactly is Hoop-Dee-Doo? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “noisy and exuberant or attention-getting activity…a lively social affair.” That’s pretty much what all guests experience when they stroll into Pioneer Hall in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Let’s dive into the history and culture surrounding this stalwart Walt Disney World experience. We’ll sprinkle in a few fun facts and have a rootin’-tootin’ great time!

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In the Beginning…

Walt Disney World Resort opened to the public on October 1, 1971, boasting Magic Kingdom theme park and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Within a month, Disney opened two additional resorts – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds. Add in a couple golf courses, and that was the entirety of Walt Disney World in 1971.

The resort – and in particular Magic Kingdom – was a huge hit with the public. Guests enjoyed the quintessential immersive Disney experience in the theme park, as well as top-notch accommodations at the resorts. But outside the gates of Magic Kingdom, there was not much to do after dark. Aside from the resort restaurants and pools, Walt Disney World offered little in the way of organized entertainment.

The shining exception to this early deficiency was the Polynesian’s South Seas Luau – an evening show featuring authentic entertainers from various Pacific islands, performed outdoors on the Polynesian’s beachfront area.  The Luau attracted guests from around the resort, and by 1974 it was so popular it was selling out each night.

disney's polynesian resort luau
Image: RetroWDW

Disney Legend Card Walker – recently appointed President of The Walt Disney Company (then known as Walt Disney Productions) following the death of Roy O. Disney – recognized the value of entertainment in the Disney resort hotels, and wanted to add more magic outside the theme park. He set his sights on Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. The charming nature-inspired resort and campground offered guests plenty to do during the day, and it was also the site of a soon-to-open venue that just might fit the bill as a dinner theater location.

Pioneer Hall

An extension of the resort’s Crockett’s Tavern dining area was underway, planned as a lounge and town-hall-style gathering space next door to the tavern. In classic Disney synergistic style, the area would be filled with memorabilia related to the frontiersman Davy Crockett – made famous by Disney in the 1950s through numerous television specials celebrating his patriotic accomplishments.

In addition to the Davy Crockett inspiration, the restaurant and lounge was also to feature a selection of Disney’s True Life Adventure films, as well as periodic nature lectures and live animal demonstrations. Wanting to bring more energy and live entertainment to the resort, Walker identified this location as ideal for an evening dinner show, rather than the passive sideshow entertainment which was originally planned.

pioneer hall at disney's fort wilderness resort and campground
Image: BlogMickey

The Fort Wilderness Dining Hall opened on April 1, 1974. The two-story building – later renamed Pioneer Hall – was modeled after a U.S. Northwest Territory lodge from the late 1800s. Disney spared no expense in creating an authentic atmosphere, constructing the hall with over 1,200 hand-fitted western white pine logs from Montana, and 70 tons of rare ebony stone from North Carolina. With a few adjustments, the new hall proved to be the perfect home for a new dinner show.

Creating a Legendary Show

In keeping with the nature and Frontierland theming of the resort, Walker’s entertainment team developed a show concept based on a broken-down stagecoach full of performers on their way to another engagement. While stuck in town following “a record-breaking two-day booking at the Scrubrush Opera House in Tombstone,” the performers would happily perform for guests in their temporary home, while their stagecoach was being repaired.

Add in heaping helping of fried chicken, barbeque ribs, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, cornbread, and apple pie, and Disney had the makings of a legendary experience (though they didn’t know it yet).

hoop dee doo musical revue food
Image: Disney

The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (originally billed as Whoop-Dee-Doo) wasn’t planned as a permanent show, but rather as a summer show to fill the space and bring in some additional revenue. As such, Walt Disney World auditioned college students using a summer intern program. This program, which offered young performers an internship and college credit, supplied an inexpensive and eager cast for the new show when it opened in June 1974.

The interns were hired to fill six iconic roles – three male and three female – who would entertain guests as three very different couples. Jim Handy and Flora Long headlined the show as the singers. Johnny Ringo and Claire de Lune moved about the stage as the dancers, and Six Bits Slocum and Dolly Drew provided comic relief.

With only a tiny budget for marketing, producers for the show resorted to placing printed flyers in local hotels to drum up awareness.

The first shows performed were anything but crowded, with spirited performances entertaining marginal crowds. But over the course of that first summer, word spread throughout Walt Disney World, and attendance began to rise. Hoop-Dee-Doo was so well-loved by guests that it became an unqualified success which demanded a continued life.  Near the end of the summer, a wonderful problem presented itself. Those eager summer interns who put their hearts into Hoop-Dee-Doo were headed back to college, and Disney needed the now-popular show to go on. Auditions for permanent performers were held in early September 1974, and the show did indeed go on – for fifty years and counting!

What Exactly is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue?

The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is exactly as billed – a mix of musical theater, comedy, and vaudeville, set in a Frontierland theme. It features six lovable characters, singing, dancing, jokes, and tons of energy. Of course, with a show based in Fort Wilderness Resort, guests will catch a whiff of Davy Crockett.

The show is separated into three acts, all packed with hilarious moments, as well as some personalized entertainment with audience participation. In addition to eating and watching, guests are encouraged to participate in the show by singing, clapping, and stomping their feet.

Let’s meet the stars of the show.

Jim Handy and Flora Long

hoop dee doo musical revue jim handy and flora long
Image: Disney Food Blog

This handsome leading man and lovely leading lady are the heart of the show – they enjoy a perpetually romantic relationship worthy of a written ode. In fact, the pair actually stroll down into the center of the audience at one point in the performance, crooning a lovely serenade. Jim is energetic and youthful – handsome, outgoing, and friendly. Flora is a beautiful leading lady – sweet and petite with a soprano voice.

Johnny Ringo and Claire de Lune

hoop dee doo musical revue johnny ringo and claire de lune

This pair is light on their feet, and may be considered the soul of the show. They move about the stage effortlessly – sometimes performing a moving number, and other times simply swaying about. Johnny is a handsome, dapper riverboat song-and-dance man who likes to flirt with every girl in the room. But his heart truly beats for Claire – an adorable, lovable, and flirtatious belle, full of life and best known for her outrageous giggle.

Six Bits Slocum and Dolly Drew

hoop dee doo musical revue six bits slocumb and dolly drew

Comic relief is a critical component to family entertainment, and this outrageous pair never fails to make families laugh out loud. Six Bits is old-school vaudeville at its best, bringing slapstick energy to the stage while also delivering an extra helping of wisecracks and puns.  Dolly is the perfect complement to Six Bits, with a tough folk-hero exterior, and her bold, yet comedic personality.

All-American Music

The raucous opening song – appropriately titled “Hoop-Dee-Doo” –  immediately sets the stage for the fun, energetic show to come. The song is actually a parody of the song of the same name written by Milton De Lugg and Frank Loesser, and first recorded by legendary crooner Perry Como in 1950. Legend has it that Como initially didn’t want to record the song, having once admitted “I hate that song. It makes me sick.” Well, that “terrible” song stayed in the Billboard charts for over four months, landing at number 25 on the Billboard’s year-end top singles for 1950. While Disney songwriters rewrote many of the lyrics to fit the content of the show, the memorable upbeat tune remains intact, sending many guests happily humming the tune as they exit the show.

hoop dee doo by perry como

Another popular tune – called the “All-State Song” – is also a staple of the show. A take-off of the American Folk song “She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain,” the “All-State Song” was written with a verse for every state in the U.S., as well as verses for some of the more visited foreign countries. The show’s performers incorporate the home states of several guests in the audience into the song, adding a personal touch to the experience.

Changes Over the Years

Hoop-Dee-Doo has been a timeless Walt Disney World classic for fifty years and counting, remaining much the same as it was over that first magical summer in 1974. But a few small tweaks have occurred here and there.

The dinner show’s signature dessert is the classic strawberry shortcake – introduced by the Pioneer Hall Players with the “Strawberry Shortcake Walk.” But strawberry shortcake wasn’t always the dessert of choice in Pioneer Hall. For the first few years of the show, apple pie was the finishing touch, presented with the song “Apple Pie Hoedown.”

The popular “Hoop-Dee-Doo” song got Disney in a bit of hot water in 2011. Disney had been blissfully using the song since 1974, and it was only in the 2000s that the family of lyricist Frank Loesser learned of the song’s use by Disney. They were furious at what they perceived as the theft of intellectual property and threatened legal action to recoup decades of unpaid royalties. and to establish payments for future use of the song. Disney acknowledged the error and quietly settled with Loesser’s family out of court. During the late summer of 2011, the theme song was replaced with one written specifically for Disney. Thankfully, the replacement song still includes the iconic phrase “Hoop-Dee-Doo.”

hoop dee doo musical napkin waving

Once upon a time, during the show’s finale, the Pioneer Hall Players would invite the audience to stand up on their chairs with their red and white checkered napkins in their hands and wave them high above their heads. Due to safety issues and legal liabilities, the practice of standing on chairs has long-since been discontinued. But guests are still encouraged to wave their napkins in the air!

A Timeless Disney Classic

hoop dee doo musical revue cast taking a bow

Since Hoop-Dee-Doo first began amusing guests on June 30, 1974, the show has gone on to complete over 44,000 performances, entertaining over 12 million happy guests over the course of five decades. The Wild West party continues to sell out to happy crowds throughout Walt Disney World, making Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground an essential destination at least once – even if just to spend the evening with a few Frontierland friends.

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Are you interested in seeing the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue for yourself? Facts and Figment Vacation Planning can help you plan the perfect trip to Walt Disney World, and score the best discounts Disney has to offer. Please start here to begin. Our travel planning services are absolutely FREE, and we can help you score the best, hardest-to-get deals to make your vacation more affordable.


Disney D23: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue Celebrates 40 Years Of Foot-Stompin’ Fun

WDW Chronicles: History of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Jim Korkis, May 3, 2016, All Ears Magazine

WDW Radio Podcast: Show 376 (2014) – History of the Hoop Dee Do Musical Revue

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