The famed Ahwahnee is scheduled to become The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Curry Village will become Half Dome Village, and the Wawona Hotel will become Big Trees Lodge.
WASHINGTON — Bid farewell to some of Yosemite National Park’s most iconic names.
In an extraordinary move, the National Park Service said Thursday that it was changing the names of The Ahwahnee hotel, Curry Village and other beloved park sites. The move, officials say, was forced on them by an intellectual-property dispute with the California park’s departing concessions firm.
“We feel we have to change the names,” Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said Thursday. “With the ongoing litigation, we feel this step is necessary.”
The famed Ahwahnee is scheduled to become The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Curry Village will become Half Dome Village and the Wawona Hotel will become Big Trees Lodge.
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In other changes, the popular Badger Pass Ski Area will be renamed the less evocative Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, and the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls will be reconfigured as the Yosemite Valley Lodge.
Yosemite National Park — another name also claimed by the departing concession company, formally known as DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite — remains in dispute but will stay put, Gediman said.
The name changes amount to a tactical response to the claims by DNC that it owns the intellectual property and deserves to be paid for it. DNC is a subsidiary of Delaware North, based in Buffalo, N.Y.
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., the concession company seeks compensation. The firm contended that its Yosemite intellectual property was worth $51 million, an amount it says it should be paid by the new concession company, Philadelphia-based Aramark.
Park officials are making the name changes to avoid any disruptions to visitors with hotel reservations during the transition to a new concessionaire March 1, when they go into effect, Gediman said. He said the park service is fighting for the rights to the original names.
Delaware North, meanwhile, said it was “shocked and disappointed that the National Park Service would consider using the beloved names of places in Yosemite National Park as a bargaining chip in a legal dispute.”
The concession company does not seek to overturn the park service’s award of the new $2 billion, 15-year Yosemite concessions contract to Aramark.
In its lawsuit, the company says it “maintained the registration and fully exploited the trademarks” it assumed when it took over the Yosemite contract, and “created, used and registered additional” trademarks.
The lawsuit further asserts that the park service’s “failure to require Aramark to purchase and pay fair value for the property” hurt Delaware North.
The National Park Service says the names and other intellectual property are worth about $3.5 million, according to the government’s response to the lawsuit.
The trademark dispute at Yosemite is similar to disputes at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas and the Grand Canyon in Arizona and with other iconic pieces of Americana owned by the U.S. government, such the Space Shuttle Atlantis.