We made it out to Epcot recently to check out the latest progress in the very busy International Gateway entrance to the park. If you’re unfamiliar with International Gateway, it is a lower traffic entrance to the park that services the Epcot area resorts – Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan and Dolphin, and even a boat service from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While it might be a bit odd as referring to this entrance as a lesser used entrance given how many resorts it services, it is by no means the main entrance to the park and the amount of guests entering here are just a fraction of the amount that use the parking lot main entrance…for now.
We say “for now” because International Gateway will soon be connected to tens of thousands of more guests via the Disney Skyliner gondola system. By connecting Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and the upcoming Disney’s Riviera Resort, we’re looking at over 6,200 hotel rooms being connected to the International Gateway via the Disney Skyliner gondola system. If you combine that with the possibility that guests could use the system as park-to-park transportation between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot, there’s the potential for 20,000+ “new” guests to Epcot’s back entrance.
With some of the boring numbers out of the way, let’s check on the latest progress for the Disney Skyliner station at International Gateway. After you walk through the temporary bag check location situated “behind” where this photo was taken, you’ll notice new pavement and an expansive area that will hopefully absorb the new guests adequately.
Walking under the Skyliner line, we turn the corner to find simple planters have replaced what used to be a high wall.
A peek over the planeteers reveals the astroturf theming. It’s a bit odd to see something like astroturf replace the flowerbed that was shown off in the concept art, but maybe this area is considered off limits, even to the gardeners who would potentially tend to the flowers.
Beyond that detail, we have another good hint at the logistics of the station. While there are covered walkways on either side of the main loop in the station, only the walkway to the left of the loop leads down to a guest pathway. Here’s a look at the right covered walkway, which appears to be a queue that will very likely lead to a walkway on the opposite side of the station for guests to use as the entrance walkway.
As you can see in the photos below, there are two distinct walkways on the left side of the station. One looks to be a direct ramp up to what will likely be the unload area, and other path appears to be winding around the back of the station. This winding path will likely be the entrance pathway, with the winding walkway hopefully providing plenty of queue for high traffic times such as park close.
To better visualize the walkways, here’s an older photo from when the walls were lower near the walkways. From here, you can see the direct ramp on the left of the below image, whereas the entrance walkway would be even further left.
As seen in the most recent construction photos earlier in the report, the station is looking great and is likely only a week or two away from being “completed”. That said, there is a lot of other infrastructure work that needs to be done in the International Gateway area before those 20,000+ guests can flood into the area. With the station looking just as good as any other station on the line (read: a week or two away from completion), it would reason that other elements are preventing the Disney Skyliner system from opening before the announced September 29th opening date.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the other work being done in the construction zone known as International Gateway.
Taking a look at our earlier photo of the current walkway that goes past the Disney Skyliner station at the left, there is actually an active construction site to the right of the pathway too.
A peek over the low hedges on the right shows that infrastructure work is underway on the area that use to be the ticket kiosks and small bag check/entrance. It looks like bag check will be expanded here, and given the current state of work, it’s definitely not one or two weeks away from completion like the Disney Skyliner gondola station nearby.
A reverse view from the one above shows how close this area will be to the Disney Skyliner gondola station and the masses that will soon be descending upon the International Gateway entrance to Epcot. With the Disney Skyliner opening in late September and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure scheduled to open in the first half of 2020, this will be a very busy area of Epcot compared to decades past.
Speaking of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, let’s take a look at the latest construction, as seen from the International Gateway area as well as from inside Epcot.
There isn’t probably much commentary that can be offered here beyond the obvious progress, so we’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.
Ok, maybe a little bit of commentary. This is a restroom and some theming on the low wall that will run the length of the canal used by the Friendships.
As always, keep checking back with BlogMickey.com for the latest on this and many more projects from around the Disney Parks!