National Park Service Centennial

Yosemite National Park changes names of iconic structures

Katia Hetter, CNNUpdated 1st March 2016
(CNN) — Yosemite National Park's great Ahwahnee Hotel is no more.
It's now the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
As of Wednesday, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is now Yosemite Valley Lodge, the Wawona Hotel is Big Trees Lodge, Curry Village is Half Dome Village, and Badger Pass Ski Area is Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area.
Several of Yosemite National Park's iconic structures and locations have been renamed -- at least temporarily -- because of a legal battle over trademarks, the National Park Service said.
The agency is battling with the concessionaire that ran the park's lodging, retail and food services for more than 20 years.
The park service says DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, a subsidiary of Delaware North, claims ownership of some of the park's trade names and trademarks, and is demanding more than $50 million in compensation for the rights to those names.
Yosemite went through a competitive bidding process and picked a subsidiary of global concessionaire Aramark to provide similar services starting March 1. The new company has a 15-year contact to provide services to over 4 million annual visitors to Yosemite.
"This is a new era in Yosemite and we are very excited to welcome Yosemite Hospitality LLC as the new primary concessioner in Yosemite National Park," park Superintendent Don Neubacher said in a statement.
"We would like to thank Delaware North Companies for their exceptional service to Yosemite's visitors over the course of their contract in Yosemite National Park."
There could be some bumps in the road during the transition, aside from the legal dispute. In a statement, the park service requested "patience from visitors should they encounter any disruption during this unprecedented transition."
Delaware North had said in a statement that the park service "is trying to use (beloved names of places in Yosemite) as a bargaining chip in a legal dispute involving basic contract rights."
Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman told CNN affiliate KFSN, "the names of the structures belong to the American people ... and Delaware North is not entitled to any compensation."
If the park service wins in court, the previous names of the structures and sites could be restored.
"While it is unfortunate that we must take this action, changing the names of these facilities will help us provide seamless service to the American public during the transition to the new concessioner. Yosemite National Park belongs to the American people," Neubacher said in January.
"This action will not affect the historic status of the facilities, as they are still important cultural icons to the National Park Service and the public. Our stewardship of these properties is unwavering."
Yosemite is the country's fourth most-popular national park, generating $535 million in economic benefits, according to the park.