Or do we just beat cheeks to Hagrid, deal with all the Potter stuff, and take the rest of the day as it comes?
Welcome! No need for a plan when you have express. Just go wherever, whenever. Except for Hagrid’s of course. We had good luck with it right at open, and 30 minutes before closing in early January.
I generally just map out the attractions I want to do.
Welcome! With express pass you don’t need a touring plan. I made some anyway to figure out what a realistic day would look like, but I don’t think we followed them at all – even less than we followed them at WDW.
Apart from Hagrid’s, if you think you might want to meet Blue the raptor you should line up 10-15 minutes before it opens (in late August we joined the queue ~10 minutes before she started trying to eat people and were the 3rd or 4th group). If you have a child small enough for Pteranodon Flyers that also doesn’t have Express Pass and had short waits first thing in the morning the day my kids did it. They said it wasn’t as fun as it looks though.
Like the others said. Express Pass IS your plan! Check out the park maps so have a sense of familiarity and prepare to be wowed by your flexible efficiency!
It depends on what your goal is. Our goal wasn’t to do all the rides but to thoroughly explore all HP and Simpsons, so we had Express but didn’t ride as much as others might have. I loved having Express and wouldn’t do it without it unless it was a very low crowd time, which is unlikely with the times of yr I have available to go. A couple of things might get backed up and have a line. We found that the Hogwarts Express took longer to board than we would have expected, for example.