Not sure if you're still looking for advice, but I'll give my two cents since your trip is coming up! I'm a somewhat reserved season-pass holder who is slowly expanding my ride horizon, so might be relevant if you have kids or less-than-thrill-seekers with you.
1. Ride wait times have been pretty short for us lately. We went on a Friday and a Sunday in April and barely had to wait for anything, definitely not more than 15-20 minutes. Nighthawk's line is always pretty long, though, but we don't usually ride it anyway.
2. I'd pick a part of the park and just start making your way around. We typically start with Rip Roarin' Rapids (North Gate) because the line is very short in the morning and then you have all day to dry off. Also Nighthawk's line gets very long, so I would say do that one early as well. (It's also toward the front of the park.)
3. I'm not the best person to give advice on seats since I tend to avoid seats that give "airtime." (And I don't ride Hurler, Intimidator, or Fury.) I like the back of Afterburn because it's faster, and the front of most everything else. It's typically rougher in the back of any of the rides. My favorite coasters are Cyclone and Afterburn, and I don't like Nighthawk or Ricochet. (Ricochet is essentially Whiplash: The Ride, but I think that's all mouse coasters.)
4. I like Vortex, you just have to be aware of head-banging. I don't like Nighthawk, I think the flying sensation is weird/unnerving and it's not worth the wait + lift hill face-up at the sun. I haven't ridden Hurler so I can't give an honest opinion, although I've heard they smoothed out the track in recent years.
5. I like the Scrambler, and the ScreamWeaver. The new Plants vs. Zombies is good, too. (And Rip Roarin' Rapids if that's considered flat.) Really any of them are good, although I have never ridden Southern Star. (I have heard from friends that the restraints are boob-squishers, though!)
6. I live in Concord so I've never stayed in any of the area hotels, sorry!
7. I think they do have early ride times, but you'd have to check the website to be sure. We usually get there a little after opening so we never take advantage of that.
8. Even if you're a passholder, you have to get your hand stamped if you want to come back to the park that day. They're very firm about it. Also don't count out some of the Planet Snoopy rides just because they are "kids rides." The Gliders ride is really fun, and I enjoy Woodstock Express. (Although I am a short person. My taller friends complain about their knees.)
That, said (and I don't even know if there is a height restriction on it anyway) but I do NOT recommend the Snoopy Flying Ace coaster. I rode it once when I was in high school and I hated it so much. My glasses almost fell off because my head hit the restraints so hard.