New Logo for California Adventure Theme Park Has Some Scratching Their Heads

Original logo for Disney's California Adventure (Top) and the new Disney California Adventure logo (bottom)Yesterday, Disney Parks revealed the new logo for its California Adventure theme park at the Disneyland Resort, which is famously undergoing some physical transformations as well.

Guests probably didn’t need it, but Disney helped point out a ‘name change’ as well. What once read as Disney’s (possessive), now reads as Disney. According to the comments on the blog as well as other places, guests are crying foul.

The only problem with this is that Disney Parks is simply playing by the rules of the game. Who defines the rules is somewhat unclear but what is apparent is that in recent years, particularly under the reign of Iger in which Disney is touted (to the dismay of many) as a brand, California Adventure is simply the latest to receive the non-possessive treatment, but it’s far from being the first and isn’t likely to be the last.

Snow White DVD (2001) vs Snow White Blu-ray (2009) © WDSHEA prime example of this transformation can be seen in the recent re-releases of Disney classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Did Snow really experience a name change since she first debuted in 1937? If you consider the California Adventure logo to be evidence of a name change, then yes, the Snow White you know may not be the same Snow White your children know. Pictured to the right is a side-by-side comparison of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs DVD release in 2001 and the blu-ray release in 2009. Note that the movie’s title had transformed from Walt Disney’s (possessive) to Walt Disney (non-possessive). This is despite the fact that there actually is an existing specific trademark for Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

This is no happy accident. One would be hard-pressed to find a practical example today in which the Disney logo is portrayed as possessive while it was quite commonplace several years ago. Reaching out to our readers when we pondered the change before, the most likely cause for the change suggested was that it had become a trademark issue. Trademark usage guidelines are very strict and while we couldn’t explicitly find anything about possessive use in the laws we looked at, a quick google search indicates that many companies make it clear that trademarks should never be modified from their registered form. And as an example, Walt Disney has been registered, but Walt Disney’s appears to have never been registered.

Going back to the new park logo, however, there’s another difference. And that is whereas the original logo uses the federally registered trademark symbol (®), the new logo uses the more generic trademark symbol. That is because Disney’s California Adventure is in fact a registered trademark, but Disney California Adventure is not.

UPDATE: 06/01/10 – We have learned that Disney Parks has formally applied for trademarks for Disney California Adventure on May 27. But please hold on to your hats and glasses, because we also learned that on May 24, Disney applied for a trademark for Disney It’s A Small World so the trend continues.

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