Epcot’s International Gateway is commonly referred to as the back door entrance to the park. This separate entrance is the gateway between Epcot and the surrounding resort area.
Guests can use the Epcot International Gateway Entrance for a variety of reasons. For example, you might enter or exit at this entrance when park-hopping between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Or if you’re staying in the Epcot Resort Area, you’ll be within walking distance of this park entrance.
Below, we’ll discuss the details of Epcot’s International Gateway, including when to use it. Many guests like using the International Gateway for early entry because it’s less crowded than Epcot’s main entrance. However, accessing that early in the morning is difficult unless you’re staying in the Epcot Resort Hotels.
Additionally, we’ll discuss what countries and attractions are closest to this entrance, along with the nearby resorts and transportation options available at the International Gateway. When we’re finished, you’ll know the best options for using the International Gateway to your advantage. Let’s get started.
Epcot International Gateway Location and Hours
The International Gateway is part of Epcot’s World Showcase. The entrance sits between the United Kingdom Pavilion and the France Pavilion. Hours of operation for this entrance coincide with the park’s operating hours. If you’re eligible for early theme park hours and stay at one of the surrounding resorts, this entrance will be accessible.
Additionally, the entrance will remain open for those eligible for extended theme park benefits. The International Gateway is available until all guests have exited the park. However, if you’re staying for Disney After Hours at Epcot, a private ticketed event, the Skyliner and Friendship Boats will not be available. For more on eligibility for early theme park hours and extended theme park benefits, try our guide to Why You Should Stay at a Disney World Resort.
When you arrive at the International Gateway, the setup is similar to other park entrances. You’ll walk through security before making your way through the ticket turnstiles. Outside the entrance, you’ll find Guest Relations and the Ticket Window. If you have a ticket issue or want to upgrade, consider visiting this location. It’s rarely crowded, and usually, the wait is minimal.
Guests can also rent strollers at the International Gateway entrance. You can find details for stroller rentals here on Disney’s site. You can also rent wheelchairs at the gift shop inside Epcot’s International Gateway. Lastly, locker rentals are available at this entrance. Lockers come in small, large, or jumbo sizes. They range in price from $10 to $15 per day. You can learn specifics for locker rentals here on Disney’s site.
What Resorts Are Near the International Gateway?
Several resorts are within walking distance of the International Gateway. If you elect to stay at these hotels, you’re at a considerable advantage for coming and going to Epcot. Here are the hotels:
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
- Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Hotel
- Swan Reserve
Depending on your hotel, the walk to the International Gateway will take approximately 5 to 15 minutes. That will largely depend on your pace and how many stops you make along the way. The surrounding Crescent Lake area is scenic, so you might pause to take in the views at some points.
The most significant selling point of staying at these resorts is that you can walk to Epcot. You do not have to wake up and worry about being at the bus stop an hour and a half early. You might even enjoy rope-dropping the park in the morning and returning to the hotel to enjoy a late breakfast when you’re finished. Or you might purchase a park-hopper ticket and walk to Epcot multiple nights during your stay to see the fireworks. You’ll have many unique opportunities when you stay at a resort only a few minutes’ walking distance.
The following resorts are only a Skyliner ride from the International Gateway. Guests of these resorts will also use the International Gateway entrance to Epcot.
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
All other Walt Disney World Resorts guests will have to use the entrance at the front of the park. Guests using the Epcot main entrance will enter the park in World Celebration near Spaceship Earth.
Transportation Options at the International Gateway
Several transportation options are available at Epcot’s International Gateway. Of course, if you stay at the Boardwalk, Beach Club, or Yacht Club, you’ll likely walk to the park. However, another option is available: Disney’s Friendship Boats.
The Friendship Boats run daily from Epcot to Hollywood Studios. They stop at each of the Epcot Resorts on the way. The boats run in this order from Epcot:
- Epcot International Gateway
- Disney’s Boardwalk
- Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club
- Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Hotels (Swan Reserve)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
They return in the opposite order. Usually, you’ll find about four of these boats running this route throughout the day. The Friendship Boat dock is immediately to the right at Epcot’s International Gateway entrance. They are a pleasant way to travel and take in the sights of the surrounding areas. The entire route with stops takes approximately 25 minutes.
Related: Disney’s Friendship Boats Guide
Additionally, guests can take the Disney Skyliner between Epcot’s International Gateway and Hollywood Studios. The Skyliner will travel this way, leaving Epcot:
- Epcot International Gateway
- Disney’s Riviera Resort (option to exit)
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach (Must exit and reboard to one of the following.)
- Pop Century and Art of Animation (or) Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Similar to the Friendship Boats, this route requires a resort stop along the way. As a result, both forms of transportation between the parks take nearly the same amount of time. Often, the Skyliner is approximately five minutes shorter, but you could run into a line at one of the Skyliner stations.
Tips for Using the International Gateway
One of the best things about staying at an Epcot Resort is that you can waltz in and out of Epcot as much as you like. However, you will need admission.
If you plan to spend a decent amount of time at Epcot, consider getting a park-hopper ticket. This option allows you to visit the park of your choice during the day and hop to Epcot during the evening.
Often, we stay at Disney’s Beach Club and love the leisure of walking into Epcot to dine, shop, or see the evening fireworks. I can’t stress enough how simple the International Gateway makes it for getting to and from your resort to the park.
Another thing you’ll want to know is where you’re going after you enter through the International Gateway. After entering Epcot, you’ll walk past a shop, World Traveler. Then, you head up a sloped walkway. At the top, you can go left to the United Kingdom Pavilion. Or you can cross the bridge to the right into the France Pavilion.
For those rope-dropping, you can walk over to France to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. You’ll be at an advantage for this attraction because it’s so close to the International Gateway.
Those who want to experience Test Track or Frozen Ever After will want to go to the left toward the Canada Pavilion. You’ll be at a disadvantage given the entrance for most attractions are not close to this side of the park. However, you won’t be in nearly as significant of a crowd as you would at the park’s main entrance.
(Unfortunately, this tip does not work for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. At the time of this update, this attraction only has a virtual queue option.)
Most importantly, you want to have a plan and know where you’re going when you enter the park. Guests will be hustling for the opportunity to ride an attraction or two with minimal waits first thing in the morning. So you go to the right for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure with most other rope droppers at this entrance. Or you can go to the left for all the other attractions.
If you’re not staying at a nearby resort, you will have difficulty accessing the International Gateway for rope drop. However, you might have an early breakfast reservation at one of the resorts and have a car service drop you off. Then you can use this entrance. But I would not go out of my way to use this method first thing in the morning.
Related: Best Breakfasts at Disney World
However, we often use this entrance at other times of the day. For example, sometimes I’m at Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom and want to visit Epcot’s World Showcase. I would take a bus from those resorts to Disney’s Beach Club or Boardwalk Inn and walk to the International Gateway. This method puts me exactly where I want to be instead of walking through the entire park.
This tip works out well if you have a dining reservation later in the day and you’re only visiting the park for dinner and fireworks. For example, you might have dining reservations at Via Napoli and are coming from the Contemporary. Instead of taking the resort monorail to the Epcot monorail, you can walk or monorail to Magic Kingdom and take a bus to the Beach Club. You’ll be so much closer to the Italy Pavilion than you would if you took the monorail to Epcot.
Of course, these are just a few tips and tricks for using the International Gateway. Depending on where you’re staying, you can come up with more ideas to use this “less known about” entrance to your advantage.
Final Thoughts on the International Gateway
We hope this article gave you a few ideas for using the International Gateway to your advantage. For more details about the resorts within the immediate area, you might enjoy these hotel reviews:
- Disney’s Beach Club Review
- Disney’s Yacht Club Review
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Review
- Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Review
- Disney’s Swan Reserve Review
What Do You Think?
Have you ever used the International Gateway at Epcot? Do you have any tips or experiences that you would like to share? If so, leave them in the comments section below. We and other readers value your feedback and experiences. If you have any questions, you can also drop them below in the comments.