Lorcana Hopefuls Wait in Line for Disney Magic

By qaxio

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An older woman with steel gray hair, wearing a tiara and a stylish red dress-suit combo, sits at the front of the Lorcana line at Gen Con 2023, explaining to a group of four younger men what happened that morning. She has a diagram. This is Esther Emerald. That’s not her real name; that’s her character’s name for a LARP she did years ago. It’s 6:30 p.m. The line she’s in began to queue at six.

The Lorcana cards she—and the young men—are hoping to get will be available for purchase at 10 a.m. the following day. They are planning to stay in line for 14 hours.

Lorcana is the new trading card game from Ravensburger featuring Disney characters. It’s got all-new art, a new mechanic system, and some cards are already selling for five to six figures on eBay. While the game is already looking to be a big deal in the TCG world, the Lorcana pre-release rollout has hit some speedbumps. From early release scalpers to a lawsuit from Upper Deck to a single person reserving dozens of spaces during the learn-to-play demos at Gen Con (this was later fixed as Ravensburger realized the problem, canceled the events, and told everyone to re-apply, limiting the number of spaces people were allowed to reserve), and the most recent complication—poor queue management—that left fans frustrated and upset.

As I record, Emerald clearly explains how on Thursday morning, Lorcana hopefuls were in a line, waiting for the Hall F doors to open at the Indiana Convention Center, and specifically for the Lorcana booth to open. But instead of ushering the line in through Hall F, the adjacent Hall H doors were also opened, and the queue broke apart, despite being in an orderly line for hours.

“It was a nightmare,” Emerald said. “I don’t think Ravensburger anticipated that Lorcana was going to be as popular as it was.” Lorcana seems to hit on a lot of dopamine receptors for various people: great art, Disney characters, new mechanics, hype, collectability, and a rollout that seems to extend to local game shops across the United States. Emerald wants to get the cards for her son, who couldn’t attend.

Dennis Smith and Cory Allen are the next two folks in line. They’re friends, just hanging out with Emerald and ready to wait through the night. I wanted to figure out why they were here, in line for a card game that will be releasing in Target and Wal-Mart in a month. Allen answered immediately, “I’m a nerd. I’m a collector… I don’t like to open them.”

“I like card games and Disney,” Smith said. “This was a good combination.” He mostly plays Magic: The Gathering. He’s not looking to replace Magic, but like many folks at Gen Con, he’s a fan of playing many different games. “I didn’t think it would get this hectic. I didn’t even know about Lorcana until this week.” And now, Smith is in line with his buddy, ready to wait for 14 hours for a chance to purchase a couple packs. Everyone seemed to think of Lorcana as kind of a fun excuse to hang out. While Lorcana, the card game, was exciting and fun, the general consensus was that people were in line, and had committed to 14 hours in the convention center, for the experience. “I’m here for people. I like to talk to people. But I’m a Virgo,” Allen laughs, as if this explains why he’s here on whim.

Emerald is experienced at waiting in lines like this. “I did this 50 years ago. I used to queue movie premieres in California in the late ‘70s. Premieres like this are fun. I remember sitting outside for Tron,” She chuckles as her fellow nerds make noises of appreciation. “So yeah, why not?”

Image for article titled Lorcana Hopefuls Wait in Line for 14 Hours for Disney Magic

Image: Lorcana

While we were talking a few more people trickled in. The line was building. I told them that I would come back in the morning to ask how it went and, obviously, to see if they made it. I wished them luck and went off to crash a party or two.

Around 8:30 a.m., I returned. Emerald, Smith, and Allen made it! Emerald had changed outfits (she was Peter Pan’s Smee, and her husband would be Captain Hook later). They were all in good spirits; Ravensburger had come by earlier with orange juice, coffee, and donuts. Everyone had nice things to say about the team. Emerald, Allen, and Smith were still excited to be there, thrilled that they were in the final few hours of their wait. They’re a little dazed, obviously tired. They weren’t allowed to fall asleep but they dozed a little bit. Ravensburger relaxed its “no saving spaces” rules to allow people to go to the bathroom and get food. Allen even went to karaoke. They’re tentatively excited, ready to get their product and go to their hotels.

“After seeing what’s behind us, I’m glad I did it,” Smith said. The line has grown, not just through the stanchioned queues that Ravensburger promised would be there, but out into the street, wrapping around Capital Avenue. “You know they’ve never done this before,” Emerald explained. She’s right—Gen Con has never allowed overnight lines. “We’re trailblazers.”

Much like every other roadblock Lorcana has come up against, Ravensburger seems to be ready to meet the challenge to make this game work for the fans. In the line, people seem to have a similar attitude. Lijia Burjos has been in line since 5:30 a.m. She’s here for Disney. She’s not a game person. When I asked what she wanted to do with the cards, she said she didn’t know yet. “Maybe I’ll learn to play the game,” she said, laughing. “But for me it’s about the art.”

Further down the line are a group of four guys sitting on the ground, playing Lorcana. Chris Martin, Asa Anderson-Proctor, Carl Redditch, and Tracy Bowling have been in line since 6 a.m. Martin is a TCG collector but he’s never played. Lorcana is likely to change that—he’s one of the guys playing. Anderson-Proctor is here because he loves TCGs and thinks he can convince his girlfriend to play with him if he brings her something Disney-themed. Redditch is excited about the gameplay. He calls it simple but the strategy can become intersting. Bowling is not into TCGs at all—it’s about the fact that it’s Disney.

“I think the amount of cards that they have; the amount of characters that I’ve seen in the game so far. I also love that there’s a singing action within the game,” Bowling said. “You don’t have to sing, but I will definitely be singing every song.”

“It’s the nostalgia factor,” Anderson-Proctor said. There’s also the fact that this is step one. Reddich is excited for what comes next, for the next series. He’s looking ahead; to events, to championships. He’d go to Gen Con for a tournament. “I’d even go to Disneyland.”

I asked about the wait. This game comes out in a month. Why stick around? These guys aren’t interested in reselling. They’re here for two reasons: the experience of being in line and the fact that they’re worried about distribution. While the cards are expected to be on shelves in September, these players have heard rumors that stockists are having trouble placing orders. It might be so popular that it sells out. They want to be here now to make sure that they get product, regardless of what the stock looks like in September. “People are here because they’re passionate about the product,” Reddich explained. “Except for this event it’s going to be hard to guarantee access to it.”

The Lion King is Tracy Bowling’s favorite Disney film.

The Lion King is Tracy Bowling’s favorite Disney film.
Image: Lorcana

At the end of the line–and it’s a very, very long line–are Christi Lane, Joe Maes, and Chris Ortiz. They’re not sure that they’ll get a chance to purchase the cards. But Lane is hopeful. The company had a lot of product yesterday. “When you come to a convention you come for the releases. You come for the exclusives,” Maes said. “And with this you get a promotional card just for waiting in line. I’m willing to wait an hour or two to get that card.”

“It’s very Gen Con,” Lane said. “You want to get the hard-to-find games, you’re going to stand in long lines.” Maes and Ortiz have been collecting card games since there were TCGs to collect. They think that Lorcana is going to be the next new thing, and—like the other folks in line we talked to—are worried about stock in September.

If they don’t get product now they’re not worried. “We’ll just come back tomorrow,” Ortiz said. “We’re just getting started.” Lane chuckled and shrugged. “I’m here for the experience… this is a Disneyland kind of line.”

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