Having the same issue. The load seems very slow, I can make it to 6 or 12% then failure. All my existing characters affected. New characters seem OK (I started a new one.) but any old characters I have seems to take too long to load. I hope they are not gone forever, but that remains a possibility. Seems related to a patch they put in at 2PM PT.
Was able to get back into my characters at 5:40PM PT. All looks well. Try again.