Yosemite National Park’s iconic names restored

Yosemite National Park's iconic names restored, thanks to lawsuit settled Monday.

MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. — Yosemite National Park’s great Ahwahnee Hotel has its name back.

The Ahwahnee was renamed the Majestic Yosemite Hotel after the park’s former concessionaire filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service in September 2015, claiming ownership of some of the park’s trade names and trademarks.

The Ahwahnee Hotel was named The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. The Wawona Hotel became Big Trees Lodge. Curry Village became Half Dome Village. And Badger Pass Ski Area was renamed Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area.

As part of a $12 million settlement paid to the park’s former concessionaire, names that had been changed during the lawsuit will revert to their original names.

“We are very excited to restore these historic names to these properties that are so important to Yosemite and the American people,” Yosemite National Park spokesman Scott Gediman told CNN Travel. “The American people have been very supportive of the effort to restore these historic place names and this settlement agreement is a win for everybody.”

When the lawsuit was filed, the park service told CNN that DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, a subsidiary of Delaware North, had demanded more than $50 million in compensation for the rights to those names. The company concessionaire ran the park’s lodging, retail and food services for more than 20 years before being replaced by Yosemite Hospitality LLC, an Aramark subsidiary, in March 2016.

CNN has reached out to Delaware North for comment.

During the long legal battle, several of Yosemite’s iconic structures and locations had been renamed — temporarily, park officials hoped.

Now the old names are back. Only Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, which was renamed Yosemite Valley Lodge, will keep its new name, Gediman said.

The original signage was covered up but wasn’t removed, and park officials were busy removing the temporary coverings Monday morning, Gediman said. It will take weeks or even months to replace road signs and room directories and update websites, he said.

Of the $12 million settlement paid to Delaware North, Aramark paid $8.16 million and the US government paid $3.84 million, he said.

Under the park service’s contract with Aramark, the trademarks and service marks will transfer to Aramark during its contract with the park service and will transfer free of charge to the park service “upon the expiration or termination of Aramark’s contract,” according to the park service news release.

Yosemite National Park went through a competitive bidding process and picked an Aramark subsidiary 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.

“As a member of the Yosemite area community, and as someone who worked in the park for a decade, I am delighted this contract dispute finally got resolved and the beloved historic names are being rightfully restored. Not that I ever called the Ahwahnee, the Majestic, but the official return is long overdue,” said Beth Pratt, the National Wildlife Federation’s California regional executive director.

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