In November of 2007, hubby and I decided to be truly adventurous and give the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review a try. This is a dinner show found at Fort Wilderness. It features some good old-fashioned country-western song and dance, slapstick, corny jokes, and a lot of meat. It's not normally the kind of thing that hubby and I would go for, but so many people rave about it. I suppose curiosity had gotten the better of us, so we decided to see what all the hoopla was about.
Now, I had two different concerns with this dinner: (1) I'm a vegan, and (2) I'm bashful as all-get-out. Well, it turns out that both concerns were valid, and this probably isn't an experience I will repeat. But I'm still glad I tried it once, and perhaps my review will help others decide if it's for them.
Ressies are a necessity for this popular meal, so I called ahead and made sure that they noted my special dietary needs. I intentionally booked "Category 3" seats, not just because they were the least expensive, but mostly because these seats are the farthest from the stage, and I assumed that this meant we would be safer from the general mayhem. Here's where I will quickly add a warning given to me quite some time ago by another bashful diner: if you're shy, do *not* go to this show alone. Like a lot of places at WDW, the cast members seem to make it their goal to make solo diners feel "included". At this particular event, that can mean targeting you for some serious attention - the very last thing a bashful diner wants. This was most decidedly not a pleasant experience for her. (Of course, if you're the more out-going type, by all means indulge in this special attention.)
When we arrived at Walt Disney World, we picked up our tickets for the show at our resort's Lobby Concierge. Again, I explained to the cast member my concerns about finding vegan food here. Again, I was assured that they would take care of me. And here I made my biggest mistake - I took her word for it and didn't follow up. Vegans, please learn from my mistake and call this place directly 72 hours in advance, and don't give up until you speak with a chef. I should have, I knew I should have, but I wimped out.
So, our night arrives for the big show. We hopped a bus to Fort Wilderness, hoping we would be able to find Pioneer Hall when we got there. We were under the impression that we'd need to switch to an internal bus. It wasn't necessary. Pioneer Hall is a short walk from the main bus stop, and we actually found the place with very little stress and without having to ask for directions. We checked in, and were directed to a line for our photo op. Our picture was taken by a bail of hay, and we were told we could pick it up later... for a fee. ($29.95 - we passed. But I just have to ask - why do they print off several copies before they even know if you'll buy?)
Shortly after, we're seated on the second floor balcony, with a nice view... of a pole, LOL. Now mind you, we did pay for the cheapest seats. And really it wasn't that bad. If I leaned over a little, I could see around the pole. It wasn't ideal, but it was good enough for us. I was far more worried about being picked on then having a good view. And wouldn't you know it? Being on the balcony, in the worst seats, does *not* save you from embarrassment! Five minutes into the show, we're turned toward the stage when we hear something behind us. We turn around to find Dolly right at my hubby's elbow. She gives him a huge smile and asks where he's from. The whole cast, spread around the room, goes into a really really corny song about different states, all the while Dolly's by our side, singing right to us. ("They're from Ohi-o, hope to die-o." Was that the best she could come up with?) However, my darling (also bashful) hubby was just so relieved not to be Frank! This poor guy on the floor, about 3 tables back from the stage, was singled out later by Dolly also - only she sat on his lap, ran her fingers through his hair, and most definitely made him the center of attention! Hubby and I both would have died if that had happened to him!
Now, as for the food... as soon as we were seated, I immediately told our server that I was a vegan. And pretty much immediately, I got the impression that I should've gone to greater lengths to make prior arrangements. The server just started rambling off that, "well, this has butter, and that won't work, and this is no good... hmmm... I think we could get you some grilled vegetables, and we might be able to find you some white rice. Would that be okay?" Now, perhaps I should've pushed, but generally, I take what's offered because I hate making a fuss. And honestly, if done right, grilled veggies over rice can make a nice meal. Here's the problem - they seemed to be entirely lacking in spices. I don't know how they managed it, but this was about the blandest meal I've ever had at WDW. It was plentiful, and filling, so that was a plus. And it actually looked quite nice on plate. However, it looked a lot better than it tasted. Points for presentation, but they need serious help in the flavor department. Here's a photo:
That, along with a little salad (sans dressing) was about all they could muster. For dessert, I recieved some plain fruit. Again, not terrible - just boring. And I will say this: had this been a $10.00 meal at a regular restaurant, I would probably have been satisfied. Instead, I paid the same price as everyone else (currently $50.99 for one adult - for the cheap seats!), for considerably less.
This next photo is a little fuzzy, but it gives you a pretty good idea of the view we had (when I leaned over a bit, to avoid that pole on the left).
This next photo shows the cast singing and dancing out on the floor. A good portion of the show has them prancing around the room - hence the "bashful" warning.
Here's one of my better shots of the action on the stage. The cast is certainly good at what they do.
And, last but not least, here's a photo of my favorite part of the show, though I'm not sure the same can be said for this poor fella. He was one of the audience volunteers that performed in the last number. During that number, he wore a HUGE cowboy hat that obscured his intire face - he couldn't even see where he was going. However, when they took the hat off, the little guy was so nervous that he refused to take his hands off his face. The big cowboy dude is saying "Here's a certificate to commemorate your experience. I know you can't see it right now, but it will be a nice souvenir to have later." Too cute!
So, in closing, I will say this. While it's corny to the max, the show itself is very cute. It's definitely good, clean family fun. But if you're bashful, be prepared for possible unwanted attention, and if you're a vegan CALL AHEAD, and don't rest until you've spoken with a chef.