DAY 11 Tuesday 17th June I stir a couple of times overnight but all in all not a bad sleep, and I awake at 4:50am, just before the alarm goes off at 5:00, when Amanda also rises. We breakfast on the last of our bagels and orange juice then go down to the Boardwalk for a last, short wander. Back in the room, we shower, and finish the last of our packing before leaving this lovely place at 6:30. It takes a bit longer to reach the Royal Pacific Resort than it should, even though the traffic is free moving, due to missing the turning and having to do a u turn further up the I4! We enter the car lot and self park at 7:10am. It is already hot and sunny. On arriving at reception we are delighted to discover that our room is available, number 1415, (tower 1, 4th floor, which is pretty close, as reception is on level 3) and go straight up for literally 30 seconds to dump the bags! Back down to reception, we use the photo pass machines to generate our Express cards, and then leave the hotel by the man entrance to walk the short distance across to Citywalk and our chosen, first park, Islands. It is 7:45, warm and sunny. The reason for such an early start is to take advantage of the residents' 8:00am entry perk for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so we can ride the Forbidden Journey attraction. There's a modest crowd waiting at the entrance and we join the line. Having seen quite a few people sporting convention style ID lanyards to hold their Express Passes, I buy a couple from a vendor at $5 each. The gates are opened at 7:50 and we walk quickly to the far side of the park where TWWOHP is located. This was in the early stages of construction when we last visited, in 2008, so I am looking forward to seeing the finished article. It doesn't disappoint. The theming is convincing, and even though we are very definitely not HP fans, it still enchants. Some of the crowd splits off to the wand shop, but most head into the ride. Even after many years experience of Disney and Universal crowd management, I am staggered by the sheer length of the hidden line area for this attraction! It takes several minutes to pass through. The final wait for loading is about 10 minutes, although it usually reaches 2+ hours when the park is fully open. Well, we are very impressed by the ride. We had absolutely no idea what to expect, having done no research, but it is first class. The technology is advanced enough that it is difficult to work out exactly how some of the scenes are generated/built. I will refrain from a more detailed description to avoid plot spoiling for anyone else who has little idea what to expect. The only other attraction of interest here is the old Dueling Dragons, now re-themed as Dragon Challenge. We ride twice, the second time using our Express Pass access, as the ‘old’ return door onto the platforms (to avoid a lengthy re-entry walk) seems to have disappeared in the remodeling. My only grumble here is that although they are running both Dragons, they are not synced, so you miss the exciting near-miss experiences during the ride. After a bit of a browse to admire the craftsmanship in this island, and to kill a few minutes while the rest of the park opens, we leave Potterland just after 9:00am. A virtual torrent of non-resident guests are now streaming in to the land, heading for the Forbidden Journey, where the stand-by time is already 50 minutes! In conversation with a cast member near the new Hogwarts train-transfer to the new extension in Universal Studios, we learn that when WWOHP opened a few years ago, there was a 12 hour line just to get into the area, let alone ride the attractions!! He advises us quite seriously to avoid visiting the new section until it has been open a few months. (Editor’s note: the new area opens a week or two after our return, and although the early birds are reporting short waits at the very start of the day, using hotel guest early entry, the lines reach an unbelievable 6.75 hours on one day I mid July when I check some forum posts!!) We head back towards the park entrance, intending to start ticking off our favourite rides and coasters with Hulk, but on impulse we head into Cat In The Hat first. There is no wait, (but we use our guest passes anyway!) and we enjoy this daft and timeless ride through Dr Seuss’s mind. It’s fun, but seems slower than I remember, with less spins and turns.. anyone else noticed this? We arrive at Hulk, stow our bags in the lockers and ride twice within 10 minutes. We witness the potentially scary sight (thankfully on the ride before ours) of a plus-sized lady being literally compressed into her seat by two CMs, who have to lean on her with all their combined weight to get the harness to click even once. The safety strap only just catches, and is stretched as tautly as a guitar string when the ride sets off. Personally there’s no way I would ride anything restrained in such a precarious fashion. We recover our bags from the lockers (a repeated irritation today is the congestion around the locker stations, there is definitely room for improvement here, Universal) and continue down to Spiderman. The crowds are building up, and the standby line has already grown to 25 minutes, but of course we waltz straight past the day visitors and are loading within a few minutes. And we are surprised and delighted – there has been a makeover here, with completely new graphics and CGI, and we didn’t know a thing about it! One of our all-time favourite attractions is now 100% better!! Brilliant! We leave the ride, buzzing, at 10:00am. Hot and sunny seems to be the order of the day. Although not stifling (the normal requirement for me to get wet) we decide to do the water rides next, to give ourselves chance to dry out. We make our way through Toon Lagoon to Popeye & Bluto first… ..where, much to Amanda’s disgust, I bottle it and pull a poncho out! I therefore remain lovely and dry, but my lady gets a touch damp!