A Disney Cruise “Fish Extender” (FE) is a unique and fun tradition among Disney Cruise Line passengers. The Fish Extender is essentially a gift exchange program that allows passengers to connect and exchange small, thoughtful gifts with fellow cruisers while onboard. It is a fun way to meet other guests on your first Disney Cruise and so much fun! Check out our Ultimate Guide to Disney Cruise Fish Extenders.
What is a Disney Fish?
On Disney Ships, next to each stateroom door and under your cabin number is a fish shaped decorative element that serves a practical purpose as a message holder. The first two ships, the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, started with seahorse on all staterooms. The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy replaced the seahorse with a fish, and fish extender sounds better than seahorse extender, hence the name. The Disney Wish (and we assume the new Disney Treasure as well) went a bit crazy and uses owls, snails, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, a crown and suns. While it may seem like a simple detail, it’s an iconic and functional part of the Disney Cruise experience.
The primary function of the Fish is to serve as a message holder. Disney Cruise Line staff use it to leave important communications and documents for guests. These messages can include daily itineraries, excursion tickets, dining reservations, and other cruise-related information. When there’s a message or document to be delivered to a guest’s stateroom, it’s typically placed in a small envelope or pouch and securely attached to the Fish outside the door.
However, for most of the cruise, the fish just sat there empty, so some smart people came up with fish extenders that hang from the fish (or owl, etc.).
What is a Disney Cruise Fish Extender?
If you’re planning a Disney Cruise Line vacation, you might have come across the term “Fish Extender” or “FE” in discussions about onboard traditions and fun activities. Many are now trying to change the name to Wish Extender due to the fact that not all doors have a fish anymore. But what exactly is a Disney Cruise Fish Extender, and why is it such a beloved part of the Disney Cruise experience?
A Disney Cruise Fish Extender is essentially a gift exchange program that allows passengers to connect and exchange small, thoughtful gifts with fellow cruisers while onboard. The name “Fish Extender” comes from the fish-shaped or seahorse-shaped message holders located outside stateroom doors on Disney Cruise Line ships.
A Fish Extender is typically a fabric hanging with pockets for each member of your family in the stateroom. It hangs next to your cabin door underneath your stateroom number, and is available for all to see. They can have any theme that you like, and typically include your family name at the top and each pocket will have a persons name attached, so each person in the family will have a place to get gifts.
While you can make your own fish extender (there are no requirements on what it looks like or the quality of craftsmanship), many DCL guests op to purchase a fish extender, as you can reuse from on multiple Disney Cruises. A quick look on Etsy and you can find a pirate themed fish extender, a Star Wars themed fish extender or even a Disney Cruise themed fish extender. Just do a quick search, there are a lot of options and all are customizable. I would suggest to not put your cruise date or stateroom number on the extender, so you can reuse it.
Fish Extender Groups
Before your cruise, you can join or be assigned to a Fish Extender group. These groups are often organized through online forums, social media groups, or even by Disney Cruise enthusiasts. Each group typically consists of a manageable number of participants. The easiest way to find a group is to search Facebook for your upcoming Disney Cruise. It is likely a private Facebook group or Facebook Page for your cruise has already formed. Just ask to join, then do a quick search of the group for Fish Extender. For my upcoming cruise in 4 months, there is already an adult only, kids only, and a family fe group set up. You can join one or all of them. Several bigger Disney forums also set up groups. Just do a Google search for your cruise and see what you can find.
Once you’re part of a Fish Extender group, you’ll receive a list of fellow cruisers in your group. This list includes the stateroom numbers of your group members. Please note, most FE groups are limited to smaller groups, so you won’t be stuck in a large group and be expected to give out hundreds of gifts.
Fish Extender Gift Ideas
Participants in the Fish Extender program prepare little gifts or trinkets for the people on their assigned list. These small gifts can be Disney-themed, personalized, or based on the preferences of the recipient. Creativity is encouraged! Your gift may also depend on which groups you join, as some have specific gifts (recipes, for example). All groups will have an outline of what is expected as a gift.
Selecting the perfect gifts for your fellow Disney Cruise Fish Extender (FE) participants is a fun and creative endeavor. The key is to choose items that are thoughtful, Disney-themed, and appeal to a wide range of tastes. Here are some good ideas of fe gifts for Disney Cruise Fish Extenders to inspire your creativity:
- Disney Lanyards: Lanyards featuring Disney characters, themes, or cruise logos are both practical and collectible. Passengers can use them to hold their Key to the World cards, which serve as room keys and onboard payment methods.
- Disney Pins: Disney pin trading is a popular activity on Disney Cruise Line ships. Gift pins featuring beloved characters or limited-edition designs to fellow cruisers.
- Magnetic Photo Frames: Magnetic photo frames with Disney designs are a thoughtful gift. Passengers can use them to display their favorite cruise photos on their stateroom doors.
- Disney-themed Magnets: Disney Cruise Line staterooms often feature metal doors, making magnets a popular gift choice. Look for magnets featuring Disney characters, cruise logos, or personalized designs.
- Autograph Books: Autograph books are perfect for collecting the signatures of Disney characters during meet-and-greets. Consider customizing them with passengers’ names or cruise dates.
- Travel-Sized Toiletries: Practical and convenient, travel-sized toiletries like hand sanitizers, sunscreen, or lip balm are thoughtful gifts for fellow cruisers.
- Fish Extender Decorations: Get creative with decorations for your fellow cruisers’ Fish Extenders. These can include personalized nameplates, door hangers, or themed decorations that reflect the Disney Cruise experience.
- Disney-themed Keychains: Disney-themed keychains featuring characters, quotes, or cruise logos make for delightful souvenirs.
- Reusable Tote Bags: Reusable tote bags with Disney designs are practical gifts that passengers can use both on the cruise and after they return home.
- Candy and Snacks: Small bags of Disney-themed candy, chocolates, or snacks are sweet treats that passengers can enjoy during the cruise.
- Character-themed Notepads: Notepads featuring Disney characters or cruise logos are handy for jotting down notes or keeping a cruise journal.
- Handmade Crafts: Handcrafted items, such as personalized ornaments, jewelry, or candles, showcase your creativity and thoughtfulness.
- Disney-themed Playing Cards: Decks of playing cards featuring Disney characters or cruise themes offer entertainment during downtime.
- Custom Mickey Ears: Custom-made Mickey or Minnie ears with unique designs or personalized touches are a fantastic and wearable gift.
- Trading Card Packs: Disney-themed trading card packs or sets are collectible and can provide entertainment during the cruise.
- Fish Extender Surprises: Consider crafting or purchasing small surprises that can fit into the Fish Extender pockets or pouches, such as small toys, keychains, or trinkets.
- Personalized Door Magnets: Create personalized door magnets for fellow cruisers with their names or favorite Disney characters.
- Mini Photo Albums: Miniature photo albums are perfect for storing and showcasing cruise memories.
- Reusable Straws: Environmentally friendly and practical, reusable straws with Disney-themed designs are a thoughtful gift.
- Luggage Tags: Everyone can use some invetive Disney themed luggage tags!
Remember that the best Fish Extender gifts are those that come from the heart and reflect the joy and camaraderie of the Disney Cruise experience. Personalizing your gifts or adding a heartfelt note can make them even more special. Enjoy the process of selecting and creating gifts for your fellow Disney Cruise Fish Extenders, and have a magical time onboard!
Most Fish Extender groups have guidelines. Most suggest just 1 gift per group member per cruise, and most groups lock a month before your cruise, so you will know the number of people and exactly how many gifts you will need to bring aboard and have plenty of time to round-up your gifts.
Your Disney Cruise
Once you board your Disney Cruise, hang up your Fish Extender! Follow the rules for your group and have a great time. Don’t go hog wild and give out all your gifts that first day, spread it out a little.
Disney Cruise Door Magnets
Want to personalize your space beyond a Fish Extender? Consider door magnets! Stateroom door magnets are decorative magnets that passengers attach to the metal doors of their staterooms on Disney Cruise Line ships. These magnets are a fun and creative way for you to personalize your stateroom door, identify your room easily, and enhance the overall cruise experience. You will realize once onboard, your stateroom will be in a big long hallways of identical doors, it is nice to have something to make your door stick out so you can find it easily.
Passengers often use these magnets to personalize their stateroom doors with their names, family names, sail date or other custom designs. It’s a way to make your door stand out in the long hallways of the cruise ship and add a touch of individuality to your stateroom.
Many passengers choose Disney-themed magnets that feature favorite characters, cruise logos, or cruise-specific designs. These magnets can showcase your Disney fandom and enthusiasm for the cruise.
Since stateroom doors on Disney Cruise Line ships all look quite similar, especially in long corridors, these door magnets serve as a helpful way to identify your stateroom quickly. This is particularly useful when you’re returning to your room after a day of onboard activities or shore excursions.
Passengers celebrating special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, their first cruise or honeymoons often use door magnets to announce their celebrations to fellow cruisers. It’s a way to receive well-wishes from others during your cruise. Many guests also have magnets made for their next cruise, it is a great way to meet people who may be on your next cruise too.
Again, you can make your own Disney Cruise door magnets by buying magnetic sheets and craft your own designs. If you are more into purchasing than crafting, again Etsy is a fanastic place to find hundreds of customizable and standard magnet designs.
In fact, door magnets make for an excellent Fish Extender gift!
Our Ultimate Guide to Disney Cruise Fish Extenders
A Disney Cruise Fish Extender is a delightful tradition that adds an extra layer of enchantment to your Disney Cruise Line vacation. It’s a program that encourages creativity, community, and the sharing of joy among passengers of all ages. So, if you’re setting sail on a Disney Cruise, consider participating in a Fish Extender exchange and get ready to create lasting memories and magical moments at sea. While it is fun giving out gifts, the best part is getting the fun gifts from other passengers, it can really make your Disney Cruise magical!
If you are thinking of booking a new Disney Cruise, contact us here at Tiki Room Travel for a free quote and let us know you want to use the code “Fish Extender” for a $50 per stateroom credit. This offer expires 12/31/2024 and is valid on new Disney Cruise bookings or transfers to Tiki Room Travel if you have an existing booking (transfers subject to DCL rules on transfers).