Wanting to make the most of your time in the Epcot Area? Then the Epcot International Gateway may be exactly what you’re looking for. Most people have never heard of the International Gateway or at least have never thought to make use of it.
But we’re here to tell you that you could be missing out! In fact many of you may be thinking you’ve missed out on a ride or attraction, but actually, the International Gateway is an entrance into the park. And yes we do think that this entrance is worth all this fuss!
The International Gateway is a great way to enter into Epcot, especially for people who are staying in the Epcot resort hotels. But it’s also a wonderful hub for traveling between the various resorts of Walt Disney World.
Offering a Skyliner station, a great walking route and the FriendShip boats, Epcot International Gateway links Epcot with tons of resorts as well as Hollywood Studios. There’s so much other great stuff about the International Gateway too. Read on to find out why we love it so much!
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What is the Epcot International Gateway?
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The Epcot International Gateway is an entrance into Epcot that connects the Epcot resort hotels directly into Epcot. It’s very similar to all the other entrances into the parks at Walt Disney World in that it has security checks, ticket barriers, guest relations and the option to rent strollers/wheelchairs and lockers.
If you are trying to get between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, this is the way that you are going to be doing it!
However what’s great about the International Gateway is that it’s a little-known entrance so often has much shorter queues than other entrances, particularly the Epcot Main Entrance, and it’s a much shorter walk from the Epcot resort hotels.
Where is the International Gateway located?
From the inside of Epcot, the International Gateway can be found between the United Kingdom and the France pavilions. Down a short incline you’ll find the Epcot International Gateway entrance along with the guest services and Skyliner access.
From outside the park, the Epcot International Gateway is around a 15 minute walk from the Epcot resort hotels, The Yacht Club, The Beach Club and the Boardwalk Inn. It’s a pleasant stroll round Crescent Lake to the International Gateway. Alternatively, if you’re coming from another park with Walt Disney World, the International Gateway is roughly a half an hour walk, or half an hour sail, from Hollywood Studios.
What time does the Epcot International Gateway entrance open and close?
It’s always best to check the specific opening and closing times for the Epcot International Gateway while you’re at the parks – the hotels and guest relations, as well as the Walt Disney World website and app will have this information. In general however, the Epcot International Gateway is open at the same time that Epcot is. You can use the International Gateway to enjoy rope drop in Epcot, but be aware that the queue lines may be longer at these times.
Guest Relations at the International Gateway
Like most entrances into the parks, there is a guest relations area at the Epcot International Gateway. Strangely enough however the guest relations station at the International Gateway is outside the parks. This is most likely due to the fact that it is a bit of a hub of activity, with the FriendShip boats and the Skyliner as well as the walking routes to other parts of the park and the resorts. The guest relations has all the usual facilities including stroller and wheelchair rental, as well as helpful information about the parks and disability information. You can find the guest relations centre near the exit to the Skyliner.
The Skyliner at the International Gateway
A great way to get around Walt Disney World is by using the Disney Skyliner. If you’ve never been before, the Skyliner is a cable car-type service that runs across the parks to cover the vast distances between the different parks and the resort hotels in a relaxing and pretty scenic way!
You can board the Skyliner at the Epcot International Gateway for direct access to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Riviera Resort. To travel to different resorts you can easily transfer at the Caribbean Beach Resort to access the Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation Resort and Hollywood Studios.
FriendShip boats at Epcot International Gateway
If you don’t feel like taking the trip by air, or by land, you also have the option to journey between the Epcot International Gateway and the Epcot resorts, as well as Hollywood Studios, by sea. Well, by water at least. The iconically named FriendShips are boats that travel between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, as well as all the Epcot resorts along the way.
It takes roughly half an hour from the International Gateway to Hollywood Studios as it includes all the resort stops along the way. This is similar to the length of time it would take to walk but the FriendShips offer a much less straining, and often times less stressful walk, especially with tired kiddos in tow.
Resorts near the International Gateway
As we’ve mentioned previously, the International Gateway is an excellent option for people staying in the Epcot resorts as it’s the closest entrance to the resorts and often a lot quieter. The Epcot resorts are:
- Disney’s Beach Club – a Deluxe Resort hotel with a New-England casual charm
- Disney’s Yacht Club – a more elegant Deluxe Resort hotel with a more formal tone
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – a whimsical Atlantic City styled Deluxe Resort hotel with an exciting nightlife
As well as these three Disney resort hotels, the Epcot area also offers the Dolphin Hotel and the Swan Hotel. Both hotels offer a more modern hotel experience, taking their inspiration from Florida itself with their palm trees and grassy areas. You can take a look at which hotels near Epcot we think are the best (and worst) here.
Shopping at the International Gateway
Hoping to grab yourself a quick souvenir on the way back to your hotel? Then you’re in luck, because the Epcot International Gateway has a shop of it’s own – The World Traveller, to make getting that perfect souvenir so much easier. Taking up a substantial corner plot, the World Traveller has everything a Disney fan might want or need, including cold drinks to combat some of that Florida heat going to or from the resort hotels.
Lockers at the Epcot International Gateway
There are some lockers of varying sizes available at the International Gateway. There are 3 different sizes available in Epcot, small, large and jumbo, and are available for the same hours as the park is open. The lockers are all self-serve and take cash or card payments, with price varying with the size of the locker you require. You can’t pay directly with your MagicBand to rent a locker, but there are ways around this if you speak to a Cast Member at a nearby merchandise stand.
The lockers are first-come, first-served however, and due to the relative size of the International Gateway compared to the main entrance to Epcot, they can reach capacity quickly. There are other lockers located in Epcot right near the main entrance, adjacent to Spaceship Earth.
Wheelchair and stroller rental at the International Gateway
Renting a wheelchair or stroller from the Disney parks can be a bit of a handful so we’ve put together a helpful guide for you, so for full details as well as helpful hints and tips head over there. The basic gist is that there are wheelchairs and strollers available at the Epcot International Gateway for guests to rent. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can all be taken out quickly, so plan to arrive early if you are intending on renting one. There are further wheelchairs and strollers available to rent by the Epcot main entrance.
The Epcot International Gateway is an often-underappreciated entrance into Epcot. We hope that this helpful guide will give you more knowledge and confidence to make the most of all it has to offer and that you enjoy your trip into Epcot.