When Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue launched on June 30, 1974, the high-energy dinner show at Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground was created in the heyday of dinner theaters for Walt Disney World guests with a summer college intern cast. The foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’ musical starred six young actors and offered endless buckets of fried chicken and ribs.
“Hoop-Dee-Doo was upbeat, and guests came for the corny jokes, good food and lots of fun,” said Forrest Bahruth, show director, Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment and the original choreographer for the dinner show. “Forty years later, the heart is still in it, the energy is still there.”
As that first summer ended and guests were clamoring for more, Walt Disney World Entertainment already was auditioning a full-time cast, and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue opened as a permanent show on Sept. 5, 1974. Today, it’s one of the country’s longest-running dinner shows and has presented more than 37,000 performances. More than 10.5 million guests have seen the high-spirited show.
And while Hoop-Dee-Doo has been fine-tuned over its 40-year run, the heart of the show never has changed: a slice of Americana, old-fashioned family fun and heaping helpings of good, down- home food. “Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue exemplifies everything that Disney stands for,” said show director Tom Vazzana. “It’s interactive fun for families and stellar entertainment – six performers put on a show that’s 90 minutes of pure enjoyment.”
- Today one member of the original cast from the college program still works for Disney – Marilyn Kay Magness, who played the part of Dolly Drew. She’s executive creative director, Disney Parks, Creative Entertainment.
- An early draft of the show was titled The Whoop-Dee-Doo-Revue, which was revised to Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
- Principal songwriter was Tom Adair, who also wrote words for the score for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and the “Mickey Mouse Club.”
- In 1979 the song “Apple Pie Hoedown” was replaced with “Strawberry Short Cake Walk” when shortcake replaced apple pie on the menu.
- The writers added a nod to Disney legacy with “The Legend of Davy Crockett,” skit, complete with a coonskin cap and bear puns.
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was part of the opening entertainment at Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, with Larry Billman and Forrest Bahruth directing and staging the new version. The show played there until 1995.