If Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth, Anaheim city officials want to make sure the Resort District is also the friendliest place on earth. So to make sure the town is as polite as possible, everyone from cabbies to cops will be offered training in the fine art of customer service.
The city agreed last week to spend $90,000 on tourist-friendly training for police, emergency workers, cab drivers, hotel workers and others in the city's Resort District, which includes Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney.
It's not that the bustling resort area has a reputation for being New York City-rude, it's just that an abundance of courtesy always helps, city officials say.
"It's about getting a consistent message out," said city spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz, "being more customer-friendly, business-friendly and tourist-friendly."
The Anaheim Police Department has spent years improving relationships between tourists and the police, said Sgt. Rick Martinez.
The department already has a volunteer training program for tourism ambassadors, an advocacy program that gives help to tourists who are crime victims and a system that quickly alerts resort-area hotels and businesses when there has been a crime.
"My understanding is the city of Anaheim is just taking it up a notch," Martinez said.
The program, which will be administered by the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, would take a few months to develop and would be bankrolled through maintenance fees charged in the resort area, said bureau spokeswoman Elaine Cali.
Those who complete the training will get a certificate.
The firm slated to handle the good-manners classes, Mickey Schaefer & Associates LLC, has taught similar classes in Kansas City, Mo.; Baltimore; Cincinnati; and Tucson. Even smaller cities such as Midway, Ky. -- population 1,600 -- have adopted tourism ambassador programs, according to the company's website.
The training details for Anaheim aren't set in stone, but a key aspect of the program will be the city's history -- to help Resort District workers answer all the "random questions" they get, Cali said.
"Some people ask you in-depth things, some people just ask for directions. The more details you know about the destination, the better it is for the tourists," she said.
"It gives us a leg up over the competition."