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When You Wish upon a Benchmark...

by Patty Winter, Contributing Editor

It's vacation time, and you're off to see Mickey Mouse and friends. Whether you've decided to visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you probably have a to-do list that looks something like this:

•     Ride Pirates of the Caribbean
•     Watch the fireworks
•     Look for virtual geocaches
•     Hunt for bench marks
Hold on--benchmark hunting at Disney's theme parks? Yes indeed! In case you weren't already aware, there are thousands upon thousands of survey marks in the U.S. that aren't in the NGS database, and therefore not listed on geocaching.com. Those marks include ones at the Disney properties in California and Florida. Fortunately, most of the Disney marks have already been found by other geocachers, so you can use their coordinates to zero right in on the disks.
What makes the Disney benchmarks even more fun to find are their delightful designs. The Florida disks feature the original Walt Disney World logo: a globe of the earth with latitude lines, longitude lines, and Mickey Mouse ears. In California, except for one remaining original disk that uses the Disneyland logotype, the survey marks show the signature structures of both parks: Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park and Grizzly Peak at Disney's California Adventure. The surveyors at Walt Disney World began using the Mickey-themed survey disks in the early 1980s, with Disneyland ordering its design later.
Incidentally, the Disney disks are made by Berntsen International Inc., and their intricate designs became possible when Berntsen made a big leap in the manufacturing of survey disks in the late 1970s. We'll tell you more about that in a future article on Caching Now.
Would you like to know more about the Disney benchmarks and how to find them? Here are some resources to get you started:
•     Patty Winter's Disney Benchmarks page  A few years ago, I put up a web page about the Disney benchmarks I had read about or found myself, and invited others to contribute to it. With the help of other geocachers (and a few non-cachers), that website now provides photos and coordinates for nearly 25 marks at the Disneyland Resort, and more than 70 at Walt Disney World. (Most of the marks are at the theme parks, but some are in Downtown Disney or at the hotels.) My page includes .loc files containing coordinates for all the known Disney marks in both California and Florida.
•     When Groundspeak created Waymarking.com, my friends and I asked for permission to create waymarking categories for the Disneyland and Walt Disney World benchmarks. So now you can log your visits to the Disney benchmarks just as if they were geocaches.
•     Geocachers Klemmer and Teddy Bear Mama developed a virtual geocache several years ago that's based on five benchmarks at Disney's California Adventure.
•     Another geocacher and benchmark hunter, Ltleelim, has posted some valuable supplements to my website. His Disney Survey Markers pages show the locations of the Disney benchmarks on aerial photos, describe the various styles of Disney marks (including nails and scribed Xs), and list marks we've heard about but not yet found.

So next time you're headed to Mickey's house, download the information from the above sites and go looking for these charming bench marks. And be sure to keep your eyes open for any that we haven't found yet!

Originally published on September 15, 2007.

    

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