We arrived at Hard Rock around Noon on Saturday. As people on this forum have stated, paying more for Hard Rock was totally worth it to have the express pass. While most rides were posting 45-60 minute waits, I think the longest we had with express pass was 15 minutes. We were able to get so much done without losing a lot of time in lines. Plus Hard Rock is an easy 5 minute walk to the parks.
Sunday, IOA opened early at 7:00. We made the mistake of assuming we could roll into line around 6:45 and be in good shape to be one of the first ones in the park. Wrong. By the time we walked to Hagrid’s it was already 60 minute wait. All day the lines were in the 60-90 minute wait timeframe. We got in line around 7pm with an 8pm closing, and it took about 90 minutes. A long line but definitely worth the wait.
Our tickets were buy 2 days get 2 days free. We went for a few hours Monday morning, before moving to Disney, but did come back to Universal on Thursday afternoon. We no longer had Express Pass on Thursday, but the crowds were so much lower that it didn’t matter. We got in Hagrid’s line around 4pm and it was 25 minutes, even though it had a 45 minute posted wait time.
For Harry Potter fans, a couple things if you are first timers like we were.
Even with Express Pass, go through the standby line for Forbidden Journey. So many cool Potter items to see and hear in line through the castle.
We ate at both Leaky Cauldron & 3 Broomsticks. Cool experience as they do make it seem just like what you saw in the movies. Butterbeers and Pumpkin juice were a favorite.
Kids thought it was funny to hear Moaning Myrtle in the bathrooms near 3 Broomsticks
Very fun to take the Hogwarts Express in both directions. However, on Saturday and Sunday, even with Express Pass, it was faster to just walk between the parks instead of waiting in lines.