While Mickey’s Speedway USA is one of the most popular attractions at Disney’s California theme park, it actually originated in Japan. The story behind the ride is actually quite amusing. When Disney first introduced the concept of the attraction in the early 1960s, they of course had no idea that one day their tiny mouse-like mascot would pop up in a completely different country. The truth is, there was actually no such thing as a Japanese version of Mickey’s Speedway USA back then. It wasn’t until 1967 that Disney decided to make it accessible to Japanese audiences, due to the country’s strict trademark laws. That is when the name Mickey’s Speedway USA was officially changed to Mickey’s Speedway Japan. Since then, the attraction’s name had changed again, to Mickey’s Speedway Superbrawl, before being shortened to its present form.
Are there any real-life speedways outside of Walt Disney World, or was Mickey’s Sowa actually just that amusing? Let’s find out.
To the delight of any sushi lover, Japanese acceleration takes on a whole different meaning. Instead of being something you rely on to get you from point A to point B, jostling for position in a dangerous race with other cars, it is something to be enjoyed in a more leisurely fashion. Being one of the few real-life versions of Mickey’s Speedway USA to exist, it is a treat for any thrill seeker to enjoy a ride that evokes the spirit of an old-fashioned American road race, complete with painted stripes, hot dogs, and car-crashing crowds. It’s great for families, too, who can laugh while indulging in some high-speed adventure play in the country of their admiration.
So, is there a true Japanese version of Mickey’s Speedway USA? If you are looking for an answer, this article will tell you everything you need to know.
One Of The First Attractions To Be Built
If you’ve ever been to Disney’s California theme park, you may have seen Mickey’s Speedway USA, as it is one of the most prominent attractions there. Although it was constructed in 1967, the ride was one of the first attractions to be built at the park. The idea for the riding experience came from a group of employees from Walt Disney Company, who were fed up with all the legal hassles that came with trademark infringement. As a result, the ride was officially opened to the general public in March 1968, with only a small number of people being allowed to test it out before that. What is more, this version of Mickey’s Speedway USA was actually designed and built by Walt Disney Company in Japan, before being transported across the Pacific to California.
The ride is a faithful reproduction of the original, with some very subtle differences. While the original Mickey’s Speedway USA was a true racer, this one is more of a competitor, with some of the cars being driven by puppet dolls. The paint scheme, both on the cars and the track itself, has also been changed. Instead of racing machines painted in American flag colors, many of the vehicles on the Superbrawl version are adorned in the colors of Japan’s famous red and white festival comprehensive. (You may know this color combination as the kiritsu robot, which you can often find painted on garage doors around Japan in autumn and winter.) The real highlight, however, has got to be the trackside signage. While the black and red arrival and departure bordering on the slightly off-putting in nature, the literal road race style signage here is out of this world.
The Legal Ramifications
As we’ve established, Mickey’s Speedway USA was an attraction specifically for Japanese audiences at Disney’s California theme park. While the trademark issues that arose from the existence of this attraction are now long since resolved, the fact that it existed at all was a legal travesty. (The reason it existed as Mickey’s Speedway Japan is that Disney did not register the trademark for this particular version of the ride with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which would have prevented the ride from being sold outside of Walt Disney World Resorts.)
Trademark law is, generally speaking, fairly easy to navigate. After all, this is how Mickey’s Company makes their money. They generally don’t pursue cases against other trademark holders unless they are absolutely forced to. (This is mostly because of the costs that would be associated with litigation and the risk of losing said litigation.) What is more, the trademark registry is open to the public, so everyone can look up any brand and see if they are registered (or not), for free.
Unfortunately, the process of trademark registration is not so cut and dried, and it is often the baddest of legal whirlwinds that sweep up everything in their path. This, of course, includes legal action taken by a registered trademark holder, against someone else who is using the same mark in a way that is likely to cause confusion. (If you are interested in learning more, our legal adviser Sarah Maury would be happy to answer all your questions about trademarks and patent nominations.)
The whole point of trademark law, aside from just saying that it exists, is to prevent confusion caused by duplicated or similar trademark usage. If you are using a trademark that is similar to or confusing with a registered mark, you could be liable for trademark infringement. (This is known as trademark dilution.)
Luckily, for Toyota, the harm is limited to the trademark holders themselves. This is because the automaker knew that the trademark for Maxx Force was already registered (for their SUV lineup), and they did not intend on using it for other models. Furthermore, Toyota does not use the trademark on any packaging or advertisements, so the instance of trademark dilution stemming from this use is also limited to this instance alone.