Mickey Goes To Charm School

DO MICKEY'S EUROPEAN helpers need hospitality lessons? Struggling Euro Disney is thinking about starting a special program next year to vet possible new hires for the entertainment complex outside Paris. Trainees would spend 6 to 12 months studying such things as how to please customers. Now, workers at Euro Disney and the two U.S. Disney parks get a single day's training, although they also participate in training seminars periodically.

Walt Disney Co. figures that a school with a dorm would lure students from around Europe, making it easier to reduce the staff's 65% French makeup. Some 55% of the park's visitors are non-French. And Disney might make a buck teaching other European companies' employees Walt's ways.

Euro Disney insists it has no service problems, despite customer complaints that it doesn't answer the phones. There has been friction with employees who balked at the squeaky-clean Disney culture. Their union won a court battle forcing the park to back off its appearance code, which required men to shave off their beards and women to wear demure skirt lengths. Even after a 1994 financial restructuring, the park needs help. Attendance in the year ending Sept. 30 fell 10% and was 25% below the original plan.

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