As we mentioned in our previous update, Epcot recently changed the way the park opens in the morning. There is no more rope drop at Innoventions plaza at 9am with guests allowed into the park prior. The Test Track car with the family of the day has been discontinued and the characters do not come out to meet the guests from the Character Spot anymore either.
When the change was first made, guests were held at the Epcot Main Entrance and International Gateway until 9am when a spiel played and confetti cannons were shot over the waiting crowds at the front gate. More recently, however, Disney tweaked the process: now guests are admitted into the park at 8:45am on a standard day. At that time, guests may visit any attraction that they choose.
A downside to this new procedure is that there’s no way of knowing whether Soarin’ or Test Track is operational prior to reaching the actual attraction. The data on the three tipboards in Future World show all attractions as “closed” until the formal 9am opening time. However, we did confirm with attractions management that the rides and shows scheduled to open at “9am” will in fact be operating at 8:45am barring any unforeseen circumstances.
This means it’s even more important than ever to arrive early at Epcot – prior to the 8:45am gate opening. Guests arriving from International Gateway have a long walk to the Future World attractions. Being some of the first guests to reach Soarin’ for the morning, we noticed International Gateway guests began trickling into the area well after a sizable crowd had amassed from the Main Entrance.
Insider tip: Remember that shortly before opening the “Princess Breakfast” turnstiles become general access turnstiles and often have shorter lines. You just have to wait off to the side until the switch and then jump in line. Also, with the new opening procedure, Innoventions is open and operational once the gates have been opened – cut through to reach destinations at will.