Yosemite Name Changes Take Effect

Yosemite's historic Ahwahnee Hotel, now to be called the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. (Teddy Llovet/Flickr)

The names of some of Yosemite National Park's most iconic attractions are changing Tuesday.

The National Park Service announced that it would change the names of Curry Village, the Ahwahnee Hotel, Badger Pass Ski Resort and other attractions after failing to reach an agreement with the company that says it owns the trademarks to those attractions. The company -- Delaware North -- has served as the park's concessionaire since 1993, running numerous operations until losing the contract to Aramark, which takes over on Tuesday.

These name changes took effect at midnight:

Yosemite Lodge at the Falls becomes: Yosemite Valley Lodge
The Ahwahnee becomes: The Majestic Yosemite Hotel
Curry Village becomes: Half Dome Village
Wawona Hotel becomes: Big Trees Lodge
Badger Pass Ski Area becomes: Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area

Park Service employees will start placing temporary signs over road signs directing visitors to the attractions.

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Park Service spokesman Scott Gediman said they're using the temporary signs in the hope that a settlement will be reached. Just before it was due to be covered up, a historic sign welcoming visitors to the park's Ahwahnee Hotel was stolen over the weekend, Gediman said.

"It's part of the park's historic fabric," Gediman said. "And we are taking this seriously."

Delaware North spokesman Glen White said Park Service officials turned down the company's offer to let the park continue using the trademark names until the legal dispute was resolved.

Gediman said the Park Service turned down the offer made Friday because that would "acknowledge they own the names."

The names of Yosemite attractions aren't the only iconic names to which Delaware North has staked a claim.

The company also runs concessions at the Kennedy Space Center, and has a trademark application for “Space Shuttle Atlantis,” government court papers say.

Delaware North “apparently embarked on a business model whereby it collects trademarks to the names of iconic property owned by the United States,” wrote Justice Department attorney John Robertson in the court papers.

Yosemite Visitors Bemoan Name Changes

“Yeah, changing the name of the Ahwahnee, that’s just absurd,” said Loren Haas, visiting from Napa. “And the name precedes the company that’s trying to maintain the rights to the name.”

Bill King from Tracy wasn’t crazy about the name changes either. But he doubted the transition from one concessionaire to another would have much overall impact.

"My opinion is the current transition is very smooth from a customer’s perspective," King said.

Visitor Robert Franco wonders what the company will do with the names if it doesn’t get the tens of millions of dollars it’s asking for.

"What are they gonna do with those names? Are they gonna try and profit from those names? I don't think it's the right thing to do."

Court filings show the National Park Service values the trademark names at $3.5 million. Delaware North puts their worth at $51 million.

This post includes reporting from The Associated Press.

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