What is a Disney Cruise Fish Extender?

My family and I are going on a Disney cruise/vacation with our family friends this September so don’t be surprised to see a bunch of Disney posts (more than usual) from me until then!

If you’ve never been to a Disney cruise, you are missing out. I mean, I don’t know about some of the other cruise lines. The only ones I’ve been on are Carnival and Disney, but my oh my are the Disney ones spectacular! I mean, it’s Disney! They get EVERYTHING right.

What is a Fish Extender?

So, if you have ever taken a cruise on Disney, then you will have noticed that some of the cabins have these long pockets hanging from their fish hooks outside of their door. And sometimes they will be empty, and sometimes they will be full of all kinds of fun things. So, what are those and how do I get one? Those, my friends, are fish extenders, part of a long line of Disney cruise traditions!

The concept of a fish extender is that you put gifts and goodies in each other’s fish extenders throughout the duration of the cruise, and it becomes a sort of fun little surprise every time you go back to your cabin.

How do I become part of a Fish Extender group?

Fish extender groups are all voluntary and not at all official. They’re put on by other passengers. Before sailing, you can search for your cruise ship and sail date on Facebook and there will be a Facebook group for your sailing. You can request to join that group and then request to join the fish extender group from there.

There is usually an admin or several admins that will collect everyone’s information (such as names, cabin number, number of passengers and ages) and put it together in groups for everyone. Each fish extender group will consist of approximately 10 cabins, depending on the group.

Once you submit your info and get your assigned cabins, you can then start planning your gifts for everyone!

How do I get a Fish Extender?

Fish extenders come in all sorts of shapes and sizes! You can either DIY one yourself if you’re craft, or you can buy some off Etsy! It is all down to personal preference. The best thing to do for your fish extender is to make it personal. Add your favorite Disney characters and let it reflect YOU!

What do I put in other people’s fish extenders?

This is the funnest part for me! I LOVE coming up with creative ideas that I can personalize for each individual person. I know not everyone is super crafty or has that kind of a budget, but what’s great is, this group is not about how much you do or don’t spend. It’s about adding that extra bit of magic for your kids (or adults!) every time you come back to your cabin and finding something in your fish extender. My kids would always race back to our stateroom to see if/what was in their fish extender. It’s always fun to come back to a surprise no matter what!

So don’t feel like you have to do something crazy or expensive. It’s all about the thought, and there’s plenty of ideas on a budget! Take a look at this list by Picture the Magic.

Wait, how many gifts do I need to buy and bring?!

This is up to you! Some people gift one gift for the whole cabin, but most people break it down either further and get gifts for each individual. You can even get each child a personalized gift and then give the adults a joint gift. Again, you don’t have to break the bank for this gift exchange. A nice, thoughtful gift for the whole cabin can be just as great as many small gifts.

How and when do I deliver the gifts?

When you deliver the gifts is up to you! I like waiting a couple of days before I deliver because I want people to still be getting something after the initial rush of gifts, but I also don’t want to wait too long because then they won’t be able to use some of my gifts. So, depending on the length of your cruise, you may want to deliver them sooner than later.

Delivery is simple. You just go around to the different staterooms and put each gift in their respective fish extender pockets. To make it easier on yourself, look at the list of staterooms in your group and list them by floors. This way, you are not having to go up and down stairs or waiting on the elevators. Some of the staterooms were trickier to find than others, but it was fun to explore different areas of the ship as well!

I’ve seen some people mention pixie-dust. What does that mean?

Some passengers that participate in the fish extender exchange (and some that aren’t!) will have extra small gifts that they randomly gift people. They call this pixie-dusting. It is fun to do because it’s so unexpected, but it totally can make a kid’s day!

Okay, I’m interested but it sounds like a lot of hard work. Not to mention having to pack the gifts to bring there.

The great part of this tradition is you make it what you want it to be. Your experience is different each time because each group has their own creative flair! You don’t have to DIY your own fish extender. Check out Etsy for some reasonably priced ones. And, not every gift has to be handmade (unless you love crafting and just want to!). You can roam the Target clearance aisles or hit up the Dollar Store. There’s a ton of ideas on Pinterest for the non-crafty type.

Packing the gifts in your suitcase can be a pain. If you are flying and you have a luggage limit, I would suggest small gifts or things that can pack flat. There are some pretty great gifts that take up little space. You’ll also want that extra space in your suitcase for all the gifts you will be receiving as well. And, you can always pack an extra bag or carry-on to put all the fish extender stuff in, too.

Disney Fish Extender Info

Have you ever participated in a Fish Extender exchange? What kind of gifts did you get? Would you ever do it again? I would love to know!


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