February 19, 1997 in Nation/World

Lawyers Can’t Bear Coaster Name Contest Will Rename ‘The Grizzly’

Eric Torbenson Staff writer

Maybe it growled a little too loudly.

Silverwood Theme Park’s “The Grizzly,” a rip-roaring roller coaster, wowed Inland Northwest thrill-seekers last summer. It even garnered a thumbs-up from the American Coaster Enthusiasts.

Not joining the fan club, however, were lawyers for entertainment giant Viacom, based in New York City. It seems Viacom has trademark rights and other coasters named “Grizzly.”

Rave reviews of the ride made their way from Athol, Idaho, to the Big Apple.

Viacom’s displeasure arrived at Silverwood under an impressive legal letterhead, said General Manager Dan Aylward. Despite Silverwood not competing with any Viacom park, the corporate giant insisted Silverwood drop the name, Aylward said.

“It’s really tough when you have so much success that it causes problems,” Aylward said. The park had a gangbusters summer, thanks in large part to the wooden scream-inducer. Attendance grew 32 percent from the previous year, better than any other park in the world, Aylward said.

So, Silverwood needs a new coaster name. At 19 Burger King restaurants around the region, the public will have a chance to submit their favorite moniker for the coaster.

The contest will run through March, said David Palmer, marketing director for the park. Silverwood’s staff will sift through each entry and pick a winner, who will get a yearlong pass and a 20-person picnic at the park. The grand prize is worth about $1,000, he said.

Other park and food prizes will be offered at the participating Burger Kings in North Idaho and Eastern Washington, Palmer said. The new name will be announced April 15.

The once-chummy amusement park business has become a colder, bottom-line driven enterprise with financial heavy-weights, said Aylward, with 27 years in the business.

“I find it hard to believe that Viacom’s worried about people getting in their cars to drive five days and ride a coaster in Athol, Idaho,” Palmer said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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