Need advice for this week at Epcot!

I don’t post much but love reading through this forum and the trip reports! We have another big trip planned this summer, and have been to WDW multiple times, and I’m sure I’ll ask more questions as that trip gets closer, but now we have a last minute trip near Orlando this week with some family, and we decided to do a day at Epcot for my brother-in-law’s 40th birthday. We are going this Thursday. We are offsite and will be driving to the park. We usually stay onsite so we’re new to driving in. I know I’ve read some things on trip reports more recently about when the parks are opening now and we are rope droppers and want to be there for when the rides start running, so I’m wondering if anyone who has been there recently can tell me how early is Epcot actually opening? And are the parking gates still opening about an hour before posted opening? Thanks for any advice! Oh, and there are 9 of us: 4 adults and 5 kids ages 4-11.

Over on Touring Plans Lines chat (highly recommend,) people post their daily arrival times at parks. Check there often. It’s a great resource.The latest I’ve seen posted there-from a Lines chat user user yesterday: …”we stayed offsite at Windsor Hills this week. MK - arrived at booth at 7:45, third car back, allowed into parking at 8:15, took Monorail, on Main St by 8:30. Epcot - arrived at booth by 9:45, 4th car back, riding TT at 10:20.”

Continuing- arrived at HS around 7:45, was held back before booths by police, released to booths - 1st car in line! Into park around 8:20.”

Link to Lines chat:

Awesome thanks that’s very helpful! I will also check chat!