ORLANDO, FLA. -- "This is more than your basic Mickey Mouse kind of place," exclaimed Walt Disney World guide Lynne Daniel recently to a group of 150 retailing executives who were about to see the inner secrets of the nation's No. 1 tourist attraction.

Determined to improve their own customer service programs, the retailers had come to Disney World to pick up some of the company's magical "Pixie Dust Formula" that has made Disney one of the most preeminent customer caretakers in the world.

From tips on how to write job descriptions (Don't, because employes might refuse to do a task, arguing it isn't part of their job.) to how to treat customers (Compliment them on their clothes and check their birth dates when examining their identification to wish them a happy birthday if it is near.), the retailers received a 1 1/2 day lesson in Tinkerbell magic from Disney World officials.

The magic included a rare glimpse of the Magic Kingdom's underground where "cast members" (as Disney employes are called whether they are actors or janitors) transform themselves from everyday human beings to the magical characters of Mickey, Minnie and the thousand of other Disney World beings that make the Magic Kingdom glow day in, day out.

For Disney World, these seminars represent a money-making opportunity to share its service acumen with business executives who have become increasingly desperate to learn other companies' secrets on providing better customer service.

For the past 18 months, Disney has been offering seminars of one sort or another -- with the most expensive being an $895, 3 1/2 day, session -- peddling its secrets to bankers, health-care providers, retailers and others.

The seminars were generated by the book and film "In Search of Excellence" which singled out Walt Disney Co. for its management and customer-service expertise. "We received thousands of requests for us to share our business management style with the business world," said Jim Poisant, the manager of business seminars for Disney World.

Poisant has given more than 90 speeches in the past year to groups seeking Disney's secrets. That's in addition to the monthly 3 1/2 day seminars he leads. Participants learn about the seminars mostly through word-of-mouth, because Disney World does little marketing, Poisant said. "The last seminar I gave there were a large number of people who had been urged to come by others in their companies who had already been here," he said.

Much of Poisant's advice involves good common sense delivered through catchy slogans that are repeated again and again -- and sprinkled with awards of miniature Minnie Mouse figurines for those who answer his questions correctly (and with spirit).

Among his oft-repeated tips and homilies:

"In a competitive environment, service is the only answer."

"We call our customer a guest and we mean that sincerely. We try to teach people that the next person walking through that door is not only a guest but a guest in our home."

"Our philosophy is that if you take care of your people, the dollars will take care of themselves. ... Cast members are treated as we expect them to treat guests. If we treat our people properly, they will turn around and treat our guests properly. We motivate our cast members not by promotions {or} threats, but by caring."

No employe rules will work unless the company chiefs set the example. "Modeling is everything. You don't have to have elaborate programs or cards in wallets." The best card you can carry is not in the wallet but a card in the heart.

"We don't have an absenteeism problem here. We have presenteeism."

"Don't use information as control, but share it with employes."

For the retailers, the Disney seminar reinforced their beliefs that they had to work harder to improve customer service. As Casey Willson, manager of the training division of Britches of Georgetown noted: "The Disney experience dramatically illustrates that you can't create a pleasant customer experience by wishing on a star."