Anyone familiar with Yosemite National Park probably also knows all about this Ahwahnee hotel, Yosemite Lodge, and Curry Village. These places are iconic in the valley, and have been serving visitors to the park for decades. But now, a dispute between the National Park Service and one of its concessionaires is causing these famous places to change their names, which in some cases have been in place for more than a century.
The dispute began last year when Delaware North – an independent contractor that had been hanging the park’s facilities – lost the bid to continue operating within Yosemite. That bid was said to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 billion. The company says that when it initially won the contract back in 1993, it was forced to purchase the rights to the intellectual properties within the park from the previous concessionaire. Representatives of Delaware North say that those intellectual properties include the names of the hotels, lodges, and restaurants that it managed. Now that they are no longer managing them, the names are going away too. That is unless the Park Service or new concessionaire – Aramark – pays them $50 billion.
With such a steep price tag coming along with the names of the iconic Yosemite locations, the parties involved have decided to rename the facilities instead. So, starting on March 1, the historic Ahwahnee hotel will become the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, while Yosemite Lodge at the Falls will be renamed Yosemite Valley Lodge and Wawona Hotel will change to Big Trees Lodge. Curry Village will become Half Dome Village, while the Badger Pass Ski Area will be renamed Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area.
While this is troubling to a lot of Yosemite fans, it is only half of the problem. Delaware North says that it also holds the copyright to the name “Yosemite National Park” too, and isn’t about to give it up. That means that come March 1, all Yosemite merchandise in gift shops and other stores will either disappear, or royalties will continue to flow to DN instead. That particular trademark is in dispute however, and you can bet that the NPS is going to take every measure possible to reclaim it.
At this point the entire situation smacks of sour grapes on the part of Delaware North. They didn’t win the contract to retain Yosemite as a managed property, so they’re going to make it as difficult as possible for the NPS and Aramark to operate. It seems the Park Service is finding ways to continue on simply be renaming the landmarks, but for those of us who know Yosemite’s colorful history, it will be sad to see these places become something else. Worse yet, the thought that a private company holds the copyright on the name for the park is troubling to say the least. Lets hope this situation gets resolved fairly.
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