I heard from someone that there is apparently legal issues with using the Chinese Theater as the parks icon.
There are no legal or licensing issues. It is a story made up by fans to justify the need for the Hat. There is no need to license the image of the Chinese Theater because it predates US copyright protection of architectural works (which unless specifically transferred to the building owner is held by the architect) and Disney would not have signed a 12 year licensing deal for the center icon of a park. It also makes no sense that Disney would just do what a small company wants if they have an existing deal. If there was a licensing issue then they would have replaced the facade when the ride changed. The only potential issue with ownership is the far less icon theater across the street from the Chinese Theater, the Disney owned El Capitan.This is correct. From my understand and from what I've been told the new owners of the Chinese Theater felt the original agreement favored Disney too much and tried to rework a license agreement that did not allow Disney to use the iconic theater's likeness as a promotional tool and main icon for the park. I assume Disney didn't want to put up a fight so I guess an understanding was compromised and Disney erected the large Mickey hat and used that as the main icon for promos instead, dropping any link to the theater from artwork and ads. I assume it was later agreed that removing the hat was okay, as long as Disney can't use the theater in promos outside the park. My understanding is the visual likeness of the theater is limited only to a visual backdrop and nothing more, and cannot be used to promote the park in any way.
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