Full Review: The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Despite the remarkably silly name (seriously I feel awkward typing it), The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is a amazingly fun time, really for all ages.  Hoop Dee Doo, which I will now shorten to “HDD” for the remainder of this blog post, is a 2 hour dinner show featuring the “Pioneer Hall Players” with rousing Wild West dancing, singing, and vaudeville comedy.  Thats what it says on the website.  Seriously though, it really is fun, and the food is great.

HDD is located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort in Pioneer Hall.  I’ve written about Fort Wilderness in my post about Crockett’s Tavern, and again I recommend taking the very pretty boat ride from Magic Kingdom over to Fort Wilderness, and getting there early to either get a drink at Crockett’s Tavern, or walk the grounds of Fort Wilderness.  If you go that route, the only thing I recommend is leaving early, because the boat can get backed up right before HDD begins.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 5.33.13 PM.png
Seating options and pricing at HDD, as of 4.30.2017 from the Walt Disney World website

There are 3 seating times for HDD, 4:00pm, 6:15pm, and 8:30pm.  You’ll get the same show at each seating, and they are all priced the same.  There are tiers of pricing that are determined by where you are sitting.  You have a good view wherever you are, so its really up to you.  I will say that I actually prefer the balcony seating because there is only one row of tables up there, so there isn’t anyone in between you and the stage-action.  Also because I’m not very big on audience participation, and if you’re in the main floor category 1 seating area, you might get some of that.  I wont spoil it for you.

HDD, as I said, is a dinner show.  Its actually one of the longest running musical theater performances in the United States, which is kind of cool.  Its been running since 1974.  The show consists of 6 people with live musical accompaniment, who are a “traveling theater troupe” in the Wild West (get it, Pioneer Hall Players…?  Yeah.).  Since its a musical, there are plenty of songs, but also skits and jokes and some general funniness that will keep everyone in your family entertained.  At the end of the night, get ready to spin your checked napkin over your head and/or play a washboard with a spoon, because thats what you’re going to be doing, along with the rest of the audience.  You’ll have fun, really.  I know it sounds silly when you’re a 30 year old adult without any kids.  You should go anyway.

HDD.jpg
The HDD players, image courtesy disneyworld.go.com

Okay, but it does bother me a little bit that people are spinning their dirty napkins over their head and rubbing used spoons on washboards, but that might just be me.  Its still fun.  I guess thats just part of the spirit of the evening.

IMG_20161025_205007897
HDD Menu

Moving on.  Lets talk about the food.  THE AMAZING FOOD.  I’m not kidding, it really is great.  Its all you can eat and you will be very excited about it being all you can eat.  Its also all you can drink, with choices of non-alcoholic drinks, wine, beer (bud light or yuengling, nothing that entertaining), and sangria.  Unfortunately the last time we were at HDD I was horrendously ill with some kind of flu/cold/disease, so I was woefully unable to partake, but they’ll bring you a pitcher of the alcoholic drinks if you ask.  They’re all served in mason jars.  Cute.

IMG_0555
Beer at HDD

For food, you get this amazing selection of cornbread, salad, fried chicken, BBQ pork ribs, a seasonal veggie (its usually corn), mashed potatoes, beans, and strawberry shortcake.  We also got surprise mac-and-cheese last time, which was super exciting.  THE FRIED CHICKEN IS SO GOOD I DREAM ABOUT IT.  All of these are brought to your table in metal buckets that they will slam onto the table making an exceptionally loud noise that will scare the hell out of you if you’re not paying attention and are watching the show.  You can ask for seconds of anything you’d like.

IMG_20161025_210725341
Corn, beans, etc.
IMG_20161025_210719360
Corn, fried chicken, BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes
IMG_20161025_211028736
Mac and cheese
IMG_0558
Mashed potatoes, corn, fried chicken, BBQ ribs

You probably shouldn’t fill up on cornbread or salad, but honestly they’re really REALLY good.

IMG_20161025_220254343
Strawberry shortcake, DOESN’T IT LOOK GOOD?!

The real show-stopper (hah, get it, because its a dinner show?  …I’m so sorry…), is the strawberry shortcake.  Its great.  SO GREAT.  The only thing that I wish is that you have a little bit more time to eat it.  Its served at the end of the night, because obviously its dessert, and you eventually need to leave and stop eating.  I eat really slow so this is sometimes an issue with dinner show type settings.  Regardless of this criticism, its still awesome.

So Drinking Ever After, what are your thoughts on the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue?

I know, it has a silly name.  I know, you might feel stupid as a couple of adult 30 year olds going to a Disney dinner show.  And I know, all you can eat BBQ when there are some really awesome and creative restaurants at Disney combined with what is essentially shitty beer might sound less than tempting at first glance.

You should go anyway.  HDD is one of my favorite dinner experiences at Disney.  Its fun, even the silly singing is fun, the food is actually some of the better food I’ve had on property, and its just done right.

There is definitely a reason this is one of the longest running dinner theater shows in America.  When Disney does something for over 40 years, they definitely do it correctly.

Its also really fun if you go for any sort of life event, like a birthday or anniversary.  They will point it out, and its definitely a fun event to commemorate the occasion.

Advertisements

Disney Full Review: Pop Century

Oh value resorts at Walt Disney World, and the love/hate relationship we have.  We have stayed at Disney’s Pop Century a multitude of times, the price per night is usually around $100 (sometimes less, sometimes more), so if we’re going for a weekend trip we usually stay there due to its relative cheapness.  Pop Century is one of the newer value hotels (with Art of Animation being the newest), and is patterned after “decades” of entertainment from the 1950’s through the 1990’s.

PC1.jpg
From the parking lot at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

All of the value resorts are, very decidedly, Disney.  In a somewhat in-your-face, sometimes creepy, way.

PC2.jpg
Giant “Lady and the Tramp” statue at Disney’s Pop Century.  Looming over you.

Pop Century has everything you need in a bare-bones sort of way compared to the moderate resorts.  It has a gift shop, quick service cafeteria, a few pools (no water slides), an outdoor pool bar (no inside bars), an arcade, and a running trail.  So, if you’re looking for a trip and do not want/need any of the “frills” you get at a moderate, you cant go wrong with one of the values.

The rooms are your standard hotel rooms.  They have beds, a sink, a shower, a toilet, a refrigerator, a phone, a TV…  You’ll be comfortable while you’re sleeping and be able to shower.  Still no digital clock though, which annoys me.

pcroom1
Disney’s Pop Century Room
PCRoom2.jpg
Disney’s Pop Century Bathroom

I reviewed a moderate resort, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, here.  There are a few things you might want to know about Pop Century before you book.

The resort boasts a pretty big gift shop and a really big cafeteria with a lot of seating.  The gift shop has everything you need, including toiletries/etc.  The cafeteria serves your standard fare.  There is no sit-down restaurant option at Pop Century, but if you’re just going to your room to sleep that shouldn’t bother you.   Since there is only one cafeteria option there is no way to defer some of the guests anywhere else, so the cafeteria is particularly busy, especially so in the mornings with everyone trying to grab breakfast before they head to the parks.  You can see part of the gift shop, some of the cafeteria seating, and the cafeteria in the pictures above.  These were taken at an off-time, so everything was pretty empty.

PC_Pool.jpg
I believe this is the “Hippy Dippy” Pool at Pop Century.  Very themed.

The pools are pools.  You wont find the water slides or water parks that you might find at one of the moderates or deluxe hotels.  But, if you’re looking to swim or for a mid-day break they’re large and have life guards.

PC_Bus.jpg
Pop Century bus waiting area.

The busses are just as prompt as any hotel, but if you’re waiting in line there is no shade or seating without giving up your spot.  If the people around you are nice and willing to hold your place you might be able to talk them into letting you sit in the shade.  There are monitors that tell you the arrival time of busses, and we found them very accurate.

PC_Bridge.jpg
Walkway from Pop Century to Art of Animation in the morning.

My favorite area of Pop Century is the walkway over to Art of Animation, which crosses over a river.  There are two seating areas over to either side right before the bridge, and I like to grab coffee in the morning and sit over there, away from the business of the cafeteria.  Its very quiet and peaceful.  I think they’re smoking areas but they did not seem very well traveled.

PC_Seating.jpg
The very quiet seating area near the walkway to Art of Animation.

So, Drinking Ever After, do you recommend Pop Century?

Yes, depending on the type of vacation you’re looking for.  Overall, the value of a value resort is great.  If you’re looking to go to the parks and use the room to sleep and shower you’re not going to be disappointed in what you’re getting.  If you like to hang around the hotel at all, I recommend a moderate resort.

I will say that there are a few cons to Pop Century (and I’m assuming any value resort).  Due to its relative friendliness in price per night, school groups usually stay at value resorts.  This adds to the business and nosiness of the resort.  The value resorts are gigantic, so at park close with everyone leaving at the same time, you’ll be waiting in line for a bus for a long, long time.  Be ready to stand if you’re able.  The lines were definitely longer than any of the moderates I’ve stayed at and I’m assuming its because the values are both busier due to the prevalence of school groups and their overall size.  It can be difficult to find a quiet, adult, place to relax after you’re back from the parks, because there is only one pool bar.

 

Disney Special Events: Holidays at Walt Disney World!

If you’re ever feeling like you’re not in the “Christmas Spirit,” I have found a way to remedy that.  November and December at Walt Disney World are like Christmas/Holiday overload.  There are decorated trees everywhere, gingerbread creations, Holidays Around the World at Epcot, Holiday Wishes, Holiday Illuminations, and of course the Cinderella’s Castle is specially decorated.  Oh, and pretty much everywhere smells like gingerbread.

wdw_castle
Cinderella’s Castle decorated for Christmas with bonus fireworks.

Really, there is more stuff.  Its too much for one post.  But you definitely wont feel any lack of Christmas spirit anywhere at Disney during the months of November and December.

Epcot_Xmas.png
Epcot getting in on the holiday action with topiary Mickey and a festive snowman.  Even Living with the Land is decorated!

I absolutely recommend resort hopping to look at all the holiday decorations, Holiday Illuminations at Epcot/Holidays Around the World, and Holiday Wishes at Magic Kingdom.  If you’re going to Magic Kingdom, keep in mind Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which happens on select nights during November and December.  This means that unless you have tickets to the Christmas party, you wont be able to visit Magic Kingdom on nights its occurring.  This also means that Magic Kingdom is pretty busy on non-Christmas party nights because everyone wants to see Main Street and the castle decorated, and Holiday Wishes.

Trees.png
Christmas Trees EVERYWHERE!  These are at Epcot, the Grand Floridian, and Disney Springs

One of the highlights of the Disney Holiday season is the huge amount of gingerbread creations at both the parks and hotels.  We started at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn.  While the Boardwalk does not have a gigantic gingerbread display, they have a bunch of small, intricate gingerbread houses.  They also offer a “Gingerbread Academy” for guests, where you can build a gingerbread house or decorate an ornament (cost varies, more information here).   Oh, and there is gingerbread for sale.

BW_Gingerbread.jpg
Gingerbread house display at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

At Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club (in the Beach Club lobby), there is the amazing gingerbread carousel.  Each of the horses is decorated in the spirit of a Disney Character.  And it actually works!!

ybc_gingerbread
Gingerbread Carousel at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort.  Goofy, Mickey, and Pluto themed horses shown.

And don’t forget to look in the parks.  The America Pavilion at Epcot has a Gingerbread US Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial.

Epcot_Gingerbread.jpg
Gingerbread Washington Monument, Capitol Building, and Lincoln Memorial at Epcot.

And, the pièce de résistance at the Grand Floridian resort.  A gigantic gingerbread house.  This thing is crazy.  If you go around to the back, there is actually a store in it.  Guess what they sell!?  If you guessed “gingerbread”, you’re correct.

GF_Gingerbread.jpg
Gingerbread house at the Grand Floridan.  Look at those shingles!  Look at that detail!!!

I recommend capping off your gingerbread extravaganza with some gingerbread ice cream (seasonally available) from L’Artisan des Glaces from France at Epcot.  Its the perfect ending!

Epcot_GingerbreadIcecream_Crop.png
Gingerbread ice cream from L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot.  Delicious!  And there were huge chunks of gingerbread in it.

Of course, there is plenty more Christmas/Holiday spirit at Disney during the Holidays, and lots more to see. If you’re visiting during November and December, be sure to check out these special details across all of the Disney properties!

Disney Full Review: Coronado Springs Resort

During our most recent visit to Walt Disney World, we stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs.  Coronado Springs is home to Disney’s Convention Center, and is a giant hotel within the “Animal Kingdom Resort Area”, but its very close to both Hollywood Studios and Blizzard Beach.

Its also gorgeous.

cs_morning
Seriously.  I took this at 8am right outside our room.

The hotel is decorated in “the inimitable spirit and romance of Spanish-colonial Mexico” – according to disneyworld.disney.go.com – and you can see the touches as soon as you walk onto the resort.  There is also a store near registration that sells Disney merch, some merch with “Coronado Springs” flavor, and a small area with travel necessities like deodorant, toothpaste, etc. if you forget something. The back of the store has area where packages are sent if you order anything from the parks and have it sent to your hotel.

We arrived at about 11:30am hoping that our room was ready.  We had “checked-in” online before arriving, but did not receive a text message that our room was ready (it was), so we headed to registration to check-in. Of course the legendary Disney hospitality was present as soon as we walked in, and everyone was polite, friendly, and helpful. Plus our room was ready, and after a 3 hour drive we were just excited that we didn’t have to wait.

cs_lobby_full
Coronado Springs Registration

Overall the rooms are clean and well appointed, and are on the larger side for Disney rooms (we have also stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter and some All Stars), we think Disney wants to impress the convention guests.  But, you know what was missing from the room? A digital clock. You wouldn’t think that would be a big deal because you have your phone. But, you would totally think about it when you wake up before your alarm and have to crawl over your soundly sleeping boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife to check the time on your phone. Really, its a small annoyance, not enough to even mention to the resort staff.

cs_room_all
Coronado Spring Standard Guest Room.  2 Queen beds, bathroom, sink area, (worlds smallest) safe.  Those brown doors near the sink slide closed for privacy, there is of course a bathroom door as well, with a full size mirror.  Not pictured, mini-fridge, table with chairs.

Did I mention that Coronado Springs is a giant resort?  Let me repeat that.  Its a giant resort.  We were in the “Casitas” cluster, in building 5.  Coronado Springs has remedied the size issue with multiple bus stops, you can see one right outside the building, so you are never too far from a convenient bus stop (and it is totally possible to run from the Casitas bus stop to the main lobby bus stop when you see the Epcot bus pulling away, not that I know from experience…).  The walk in the morning to get coffee was kind of long, but I think that was because I was under caffeinated and had just woken up.

The 0.75mi and 1mi running routes are very nice and you can see more of the beautiful resort design.

cs_map

Speaking of coffee, there are multiple places to obtain coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks.  If you like a big breakfast in a hurry, Pepper Market (quick service or cafeteria style) is a good choice, but Siestas Cantina also has some breakfast options if you don’t want to walk all the way to “El Centro”.  Café Rix has specialty coffees and “grab-n-go” breakfast options (muffins, bagels, etc.).  If you would rather have a sit down meal Las Ventanas is your best bet.  These options are also available for lunch.

I also highly recommend Maya Grill for dinner, with a style described as “Nuevo Latino cuisine paired with traditional American flare.”  Maya Grill is an especially good choice if you’re looking for a break from either Hollywood Studios or Blizzard Beach (especially with the lack of current dining options at Hollywood Studios.  You can hop on a bus from the park and head right over to Coronado.  And might I recommend a 0.75 mi walk around the lagoon afterwards to take in the resort?

cs_food_all
Pepper Market, Cafe Rix Pastries and “Grab-n-Go” Case

Drinking. Thats what we’re all here for right? Coronado Springs does not shy away from that department with the Lagnua Bar, Siestas Cantina (open while the pool is open), and Rix Lounge.  We prefer Laguna Bar and Siestas Cantina over Rix Lounge, as Rix Lounge does not serve the standard Disney drink menu and is kinda dark and usually filled with whatever group is attending a convention, but your mileage may vary, and they also have a pretty good selection of appetizers.  I recommend the Mojito Frambuesa, which is specific to Coronado Springs.

cs_bar_all
Siestas, Rix Lounge, and Laguna Bar

Finally, lets talk about the pool.  It is an AWESOME pool.  You can see it on the map marked as “The Dig Site.”  Its huge, has a great (and big!) water slide, plenty of seating, a bar, and a hot tub.  Towels are available. There is also a children’s play area and arcade near the pool.  There are a few “quiet” pools around the property but I recommend braving it and going to the main pool, and remembering that you are never too old to go down the water slide.

“The Dig Site” Pool, you can see the end of the waterslide in the right picture.  Unfortunately it does not start at the top of the Mayan Pyramid decoration, but its still awesome.

cs_pool_all
“The Dig Site” Pool, you can see the end of the water slide in the bottom picture.  Unfortunately it does not start at the top of the Mayan Pyramid decoration, but its still awesome.

So, Drinking Ever After, do you recommend Coronado Springs?

In general, yes.  Though if you are looking for a moderate resort, my recommendation is Port Orleans – French Quarter.  We find it to be smaller, quieter, and we like the bar a lot better.  We also really love the New Orleans theming and boat transport to Disney Springs.  The pool isn’t as great though.

We have found Port Orleans French Quarter and Coronado Springs to be (relatively) adult friendly.  We are not entirely sure why – maybe because of the convention center at Coronado, and because “New Orleans” theming doesn’t exactly call to kids.

We stayed at Coronado Springs this time because it was much cheaper than French Quarter.  If that happened again, we would not hesitate to stay at Coronado Springs as the pool, huge amount of food options, and close proximity to Hollywood Studios make Coronado Springs a great choice.