Epcot’s International Gateway Gives Guests a Serene ‘Backdoor’ Entrance to the Theme Park

Tucked away in a quite space between France and the United Kingdom is Epcot's International Gateway, the "less hectic" secondary entrance and exit for the park.

This lesser-known entrance to the park opened in 1990 just before Disney's Swan Hotel opened. The Gateway was planned so that guests of the soon-to-be opened Epcot Area deluxe resorts (Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, and the non-Disney Swan and Dolphin) would have an "exclusive" back door entrance to the park, much like the Monorail provided to guests at the Magic Kingdom deluxe resorts.

And so the International Gateway was built providing the guests with an entrance gate to the park in addition to a completed waterway going all the way to Disney's Hollywood Studios (MGM Studios at the time). The new waterway also meant the fleet of Friendship boats would be expanded to provide guests another transportation option to get to the resorts and the Studios.

Friendship Boat traveling past the Beach Club ResortFriendship Boat traveling past the Beach Club Resort

But there's more to the International Gateway than just an entrance and exit for guests at the resorts.

If you take a stroll down the pathway that leads to the entrance/exit gate and the Friendship Boats you'll find a gift shop called World Traveler.

The World Traveler shop is decorated with travel posters, giving it an international flair. Guests will find the usual suspects when it comes to Disney souvenirs, but on a few occasions we've also found some unique items that we didn't see anywhere else.

The store is rather small inside, but if you're headed out of the park and need something quick it's a good place to stop. You'll also find essentials including sunscreen, cool drinks, and even "umbrella" style strollers, all of which might come in handy as you walk back to your resort.

World Traveler gift shop at the International GatewayWorld Traveler gift shop at the International Gateway

Another thing you might find outside World Traveler are characters ready to meet-and-greet guests. And sometimes, they are characters you don't expect to meet in Epcot.

Once a few years back we bumped into Goofy's son Max and that was the only time I've seen Max in any of the parks. On my most recent trip Captain Hook was meeting guests just across the sidewalk from World Traveler.

You just never know who you're going to meet as you travel the world!

Another fun bit of trivia: If you stand in the France pavilion and look across the "Seine" you'll notice that the gateway resembles the buildings in France. This was intentional as it needed to compliment the buildings in France.

Restrooms are located just before the entrance at the International Gateway, and there is also a ticket booth. The dock for the Friendship Boats is located before the entrance to the Gateway and guests arriving on the boats have a short walk to Epcot.

Epcot's International Gateway entranceEpcot's International Gateway entrance

Guests arriving to the International Gateway will go through bag check just as they would at the main entrance. Strollers, wheelchairs, and some ECV's can be rented once guests go through the entrance. There is also a locker rental area just inside the gates.

The International Gateway is definitely a perk when you're staying in the Epcot resort area. Guests can avoid the hustle and bustle of the main entrance of Epcot in the morning (after enjoying a leisurely walk from their hotel), and they also have a "quick getaway" after IllumiNations ends.

Thanks so much to Erik H. & Traci C. for their images in this story. Have you used the International Gateway to enter or leave Epcot? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Bessy wrote on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 17:08:

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Yes I have! My family and I enter Epcot through that gate about 80% of the time.

Rick wrote on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 17:10:

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Last September was the first time our family travelled from Hollywood Studios to Epcot by the International Gateway. A very relaxing way to travel and see some of the resorts that we've never seen. Leaving the car at the Studios was the best decision of the day!

Betty Dickhudt wrote on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 17:15:

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We stayed at The Dolphin last February and loved this little secret treasure. One night, we even just walked over there for dessert in France with a little champagne!

Scott H wrote on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 18:12:

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A typical start to a magical day: Hotel bus to Hollywood; catch the Friendship boat to the Boardwalk; breakfast at Cat Cora's Kouzzina; catch the Friendship to the International Gateway for a pixie dust filled Disney day!

Lillian wrote on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 18:20:

Lillian's picture

So so pretty and convenient. One of the reasons I love staying at the Beach Club Villas (in addition to the pool) is the convenience of walking to Epcot and strolling along this serene waterway to then be deposited in between France and Great Britain. Awesome.

Carolyn wrote on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 19:17:

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Sounds like something for me and my husband - not much walking!

Scott wrote on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 20:02:

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We used it for the first time this past September of '13. We were at Hollywood Studios and saw the boat to EPCOT so we hopped aboard! It was a nice trip over that brought us through some of the resorts that we hadn't visited before.

Sayre wrote on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 21:19:

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Our favorite parks are Hollywood Studios and EPCOT so we use this entrance almost exclusively!

CherylS828 wrote on Fri, 05/01/2015 - 16:09:

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If the entrance is in the World Showcase, can you get into the park at opening time for Future World? Unless it is Extra Magic Hours, there is a 2 hour delay, correct?

CherylS828 wrote on Fri, 05/01/2015 - 16:11:

CherylS828's picture

We will be staying at the Boardwalk on our next trip and this will be the first time entering via the International Gateway. If the entrance is in World Showcase, are you able to enter the park when Future World opens? Unless it is Extra Magic Hours, there is a 2 hour delay, correct?

Kristen K. wrote on Fri, 05/01/2015 - 22:42:

Kristen K.'s picture

Yes, you can enter the park when Future World opens. World Showcase is only closed off from Morocco to Mexico. The bakery in France opens for breakfast, it's a great stop!

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