Your intrepid adventurer set out to check in on the new rope drop procedure at International Gateway this morning. If you are not familiar with the new “procedure” or missed last week’s article about what it looks like at the main entrance, then check out this post: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/new-epcot-rope-drop-procedure-september-16-2011/.
Just as a little background on the International Gateway for those unfamiliar, Epcot has two entrances. The “main entrance” is in the front of Future World. This is the entrance you will use if you’re arriving by car, monorail, or Disney bus. If you’re walking or taking the boat to Epcot from the Swan, Dolphin, Beach Club, Yacht Club, or BoardWalk Inn Resorts then you’ll use the International Gateway entrance. You’ll also use the International Gateway if you are walking or taking the boat from Hollywood Studios. There is no bus service to Epcot from these resorts, though Hollywood Studios does offer a bus that travels from the Studios’ main entrance to Epcot’s main entrance. The International Gateway entrance is located down a path past the United Kingdom Pavilion as you walk through the World Showcase in a counter-clockwise direction (before you arrive at the United Kingdom if you’re walking from France). Most people will ignore the path to the International Gateway and cross the bridge into the France Pavilion or continue to the United Kingdom.
While we’re here, let’s have a look at the walking path between Hollywood Studios and Epcot real quick. While this is a quick look at the path, it’s not a short walk. Even cutting through the BoardWalk Inn and keeping a brisk pace, it took me about 20 minutes. Budget at least 30 minutes if you plan to saunter or walk all the way around the BoardWalk. Alternatively, the boat takes 25-30 minutes from Epcot to Hollywood Studios or vice versa.
If you don’t care about the walk, scroll down until you don’t see red arrows anymore.
Here we are looking at the front entrance of Hollywood Studios. The walking path to the BoardWalk, Epcot, and Epcot-area resorts is straight out from the entrance/exit and to the left. You’ll pass the charter bus parking lot, which will be on your right. The boat launch is also on the left side as you exit the Studios, only it’s down a separate path closer to the entrance. To get to the walkway, you’ll be passing the boat launch and turning left at the charter bus parking lot.
In other words, you’ll see this sign as you exit Hollywood Studios. Follow the path pointing to the left.
Here we are walking past the charter bus lot, which also includes a few Disney resort stops like Old Key West, Coronado Springs, and the All Stars.
The charter bus lot is also where you’ll find the bus that takes you to the front entrance of Epcot if that’s where you would prefer to go. It’s the quickest way to get to Epcot as far as total transfer time is concerned, but it’s quite the trek up to the World Showcase from the main entrance if that’s your final destination. If you’re trying to minimize transfer time, I recommend the bus if you’re going to Future World and walking/taking the boat if you’re headed to Epcot’s World Showcase. While the boat might sound like a pleasant trip, it’s agonizingly slow and not well air-conditioned. It tends to feel hotter inside the boat than it does outside in the summer. Try to sit near the boat’s opening in the front or back.
This is the sign you’re looking for. Once you get on this path, you’re in good shape.
Just the beginning.
And on. This is the BoardWalk Inn coming up on our right and the Swan in front of us on our left.
This walkway will take you all the way around the backside of the BoardWalk Inn and around to the far corner of the BoardWalk. If the BoardWalk itself is your final destination or you’re enjoying your walk, feel free to continue on the walkway. You’ll keep walking in the same direction and have the option to take a right to the BoardWalk or a left to the Swan/Dolphin. I prefer to cut through the BoardWalk resort. You can continue walking and walk through the BoardWalk Inn’s main lobby or take a right once you get to the parking lot for the BoardWalk Inn Villas.
We’ll only be walking around the parking lot for a moment. This is the entire path. You’ll take a left here and continue on the sidewalk across a short bridge.
The BoardWalk Inn Villas is in front of us. We’ll continue walking toward the entrance, only instead of entering, we’ll continue just past it and take a left down the outdoor stairs.
Now we’re on the BoardWalk itself.
Take a right and continue around this path toward the Beach Club (the large blue resort).
You’ll cross a bridge and see the Beach and Yacht Clubs to your left. Epcot’s International Gateway is down to the right.
Once you make it to this point, you’ll be able to see the International Gateway in the distance. That’s Epcot’s boat launch on the right hand side of the picture – you can sort of see a friendship boat docked. The boat will take you to the Beach Club/Yacht Club, BoardWalk/BoardWalk Inn, and Swan/Dolphin resorts as well as Epcot, which is the last stop. I’m serious when I say it takes 25-30 minutes to go from Epcot to Hollywood Studios.
And we’re there.
International Gateway Rope Drop
Here we are arriving at 8:40am. There are a few more people behind this group sitting on benches in the shaded area. It wasn’t exactly an intense bunch angling to get to the front of the pack.
At 8:48am, a cast member said “Welcome to Epcot” in a raised voice and the group lined up for bag check. There are no streamers or any other antics. Unlike at the main entrance where guests pass through bag check and then line up at the turnstile of their choice until that turnstile opens, bag check is right in front of the turnstiles. You pass through bag check and then immediately head to one of the turnstiles. The International Gateway has six turnstiles – two were operating this morning.
Here we are passing through the turnstiles.
Keep in mind that 97% of the people here at rope drop are from one of the Epcot area Deluxe resorts. These aren’t generally the type of people that will be buying bogus tickets on eBay or searching for discounted tickets up and down Highway 192. There weren’t any ticket problems that I saw in either line, though it’s always possible. There were probably about 40 or so people present at 8:45am. While overall crowds can be a lot heavier than they are right now, the number of people at the International Gateway for rope drop won’t necessarily be that much larger when crowd levels are higher. Only five resorts feed the International Gateway and we most likely have a high occupancy level right now with the free dining promotion and room-only discounts in full swing. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if room occupancy is actually higher now than it is over Christmas, assuming big discounts aren’t available from December 20th – 31st. It might seem logical to assume that more people will arrive at rope drop when crowds are much heavier because it will be “more important,” but that generally isn’t the case. Come Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the summer, we’ll see a few more people in line – but certainly not five or ten times more people.
I was through the turnstiles at 8:52am and was among the last people present to go through bag check and the turnstiles. Had you been in front of the group, you would have been through at 8:49am.
It’s a very pleasant walk through the United Kingdom and Canada Pavilions on the way to Future World. It does take three or four more minutes to get to Soarin’ from the International Gateway than it does from the main entrance.
Here we are scooting ahead with the crazed masses.
Not a lot of people around at this hour.
The last image shows the major difference in the new procedure – there is no more “internal rope drop” with a pre-show. Guests are no longer held at the Fountain and then dispersed in one huge clump to Soarin’. Once you make it through the turnstiles, you’re welcome to go wherever you want in Future World.
Disney was filming one thing or another and cast members were turning people that were trying to take the shortcut near the Imagination Pavilion away. This slowed us down by a minute or two.
Not sure what it was about – just surprised I’m not starring in it.
I call this a stream of people rather the raging river we had before the procedural change. One thing to keep in mind is that the capacity of each Soarin’ flight is 87 people and there are two concourses, meaning 174 people can be “in the air” at any given time. The 1st person to arrive and the 85th person to arrive will be on the same flight. The 90th and 160th person to arrive will be on the same flight. There’s really no reason to worry about getting ahead of 1, 5, or even 50 people. Chances are you’ll see them again in another row on your flight.
A much less stressful walk or escalator ride to the first floor with far fewer people around:
When I was at rope drop at the main entrance last Friday, I arrived at Soarin’ at 9:00am. Today, I arrived at 9:03am. Last Friday, I collected FASTPASSes with a return time of 9:36am. Today, my FASTPASS return time was 9:48am. Last Friday, I rode Soarin’ in the standby line and was back out front at 9:20am. Today, I was back out front at 9:24am. Had it not been for the film crew in the way, I probably would have gotten a FASTPASS with a slightly earlier return time, but still ended up on the same Soarin’ flight.
Overall, I don’t think anyone entering through the International Gateway for Epcot’s rope drop should be concerned. There are far fewer people in line at the turnstiles and chances are the people that are present won’t be in much of a hurry to get in a formal queue for bag check. If you arrive at 8:30am, you could very easily park yourself up front and be the very first person “in line.” While it’s true that the Land Pavilion is four or five minutes further away from the International Gateway than it is from the main entrance, you should be able to make up that time by getting through the turnstiles earlier than most people at the front entrance. Even if you end up being behind 75 people “unfairly,” you’re still going take off on the same Soarin’ flight.
Let’s head over and see what Test Track looks like this early in the morning.
People streaming into the Land Pavilion at 9:30am.
Not a lot of people around the Fountain at 9:30am:
That’s September for you.
It’s a little strange showing up at Test Track at 9:35am and finding no one around. I rode standby and was back out front at 9:47am. I could have gotten right back on and found a similarly short wait. Vehicles weren’t quite leaving empty, but it was pretty close with the few people in line.
So I collected a FASTPASS for Soarin, rode Soarin’ in standby, rode Test Track in standby, and collected a FASTPASS for Test Track by 9:48am. Not to mention taking a bunch of pictures and fiddling around on Twitter throughout that 48 minutes. At this point I could head over to Sum of All Thrills, Mission Space, or whatever other Future World attractions I was interested in. I could also head back to the Land Pavilion to use my Soarin’ FASTPASS that is ready for use already.
People beginning to arrive.
Heading to the main entrance to transfer to Animal Kingdom to risk my life on Primeval Whirl.
Please don’t be the people that arrive at 10am and immediately ride Spaceship Earth.
Stitch was jumping up and down and waiving at guests to try to lure some over. These poor women finally took the bait.
The monorail had been completely down around 8am this morning. They were running buses from the Ticket/Transportation Center to Epcot’s main entrance, as they normally do when the monorail isn’t available. The trip takes about 12 minutes, which is the same amount of time that it takes to cover the same ground on the monorail. The monorail was back up sometime before 10am.
Should you care about what buses service which stops, here you go. For one reason or another, some people deny the existence of the bus that travels between Epcot’s front entrance and Hollywood Studios’ main entrance, but I assure you it exists.
All in all, a fine morning at Epcot. Not much to see in the new rope drop procedure, but that’s okay with me. Should things change or reports of problems arise, I’ll revisit and report back.