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What are Fish Extenders on Disney Cruise Line?

What are Fish Extenders on Disney Cruise Line?

Everything You Need to Know

When embarking on a Disney Cruise Line adventure, you may encounter a unique tradition that adds an extra sprinkle of magic to your journey: the Fish Extender! For those new to this concept or those looking to dive deeper, here’s everything you need to know about Fish Extenders on Disney Cruise Line.

What is a Fish Extender, and is it only on Disney Cruise Line?

A Fish Extender is essentially a hanging organizer with multiple pockets that cruise-goers hang outside their stateroom doors.

Fish Extenders holder on Disney Cruise Line - starfish and sea horse

The name “Fish Extender” originates from the decorative fish (or sometimes seahorse or starfish – on Disney’s original four ships, the Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy) located next to each stateroom door. This fish typically holds daily navigators or other communications from the crew. The “extender” part comes from the fact that these fabric organizers “extend” the use of this fish by creating additional pockets.

How is it used on the Disney Cruise Line?

Fish Extenders serve as a medium for a delightful gift exchange among cruise passengers. Participating guests exchange small gifts, notes, or treats by placing them into the pockets of other participants’ Fish Extenders. The beauty of this tradition is that it adds an extra layer of surprise and community spirit during the cruise.

How to Participate in the Fish Extender Exchange:

  1. Join a Fish Extender Group: Before your cruise departs, you can join a Fish Extender group specific to your sailing date, usually through online platforms like Facebook.  Use the search feature for your cruise date to find your specific group.
  2. Provide Details: Share your stateroom number and a little bit about the members of your party (e.g., ages, favorite Disney characters) to help participants tailor their gifts.  Don’t panic; you don’t have to share it with the masses! Within the Facebook groups, there are sign-ups only the coordinator can see and then share with a specific number of guests.  Sailings are often broken down into smaller groups to make the gifting manageable.  You can “pixie dust,” aka “gift” other Fish Extenders on the ship as you’d like, but you’ll sign up for a specific number of rooms to keep the gifting fun and not overwhelming.
  3. Get Crafty: Plan and create gifts for the other participants. These can range from handmade crafts, store-bought goodies or even local treats from your hometown. The essence is in the thought and the surprise!  Some of my favorite gifts to date have been ice cream kits, Sea kits, 3-D printed coasters, and, way back in the day, drink kits complete with tiny shooters of alcohol. Unfortunately, you can’t bring those on board anymore! Fish Extenders on Disney Cruise Line gift ideas
  4. Hang Your Fish Extender: Once on board, hang your Fish Extender outside your stateroom door. Ensure it’s sturdy and won’t fall off easily.  A small ribbon works well.
  5. Enjoy the Exchange: Throughout the cruise, check your Fish Extender for surprises and ensure you deliver your gifts to other participants.  One of the fun things about delivering the gifts is exploring the entire ship from top to bottom!

Why Engage in the Fish Extender Tradition on your Disney Cruise?

Participating in the Fish Extenders exchange on your Disney Cruise is entirely optional, but it’s a heartwarming way to:

  • Engage with fellow cruise-goers.
  • Add an element of surprise to your journey.
  • Cultivate a sense of community aboard the ship.
  • Provide memorable keepsakes from your cruise.

Buying or Crafting Your Own Disney Cruise Fish Extender:

Finding or making the perfect Fish Extender adds an element of excitement to planning your Disney Cruise Vacation. Not crafty, don’t worry! Online marketplaces such as Etsy and Amazon are popular choices, boasting a vast selection of handmade and customizable Fish Extenders tailored for Disney enthusiasts.

simple fish extender from Amazon

However, if you have a flair for crafts and want your Disney Cruise Line accessory to be truly unique, diving into a DIY project might be for you. Start with a sturdy base material, like canvas, and add pockets. Enhance your creation with Disney-themed decorations such as iron-on patches or fabric paint. Whether you buy a Fish Extender or craft your own, it’s a delightful way to add to the magic of your cruise experience.

custom fish extender from etsy

For those who would like to participate but choosing or making a fish extender sounds daunting, using one of Disney’s reusable shopping bags or totes is a great option, too!  I like to pick a bag specific to my sailing, like Halloween or Christmas.

Final Thoughts:

The Fish Extender on Disney Cruise is a tradition and testament to the magical experiences that Disney Cruise Line offers beyond its scheduled entertainment and activities. Whether you’re a Disney Cruise Line veteran or a first-time sailor, participating in or even just witnessing the Fish Extender exchange is sure to make your journey even more enchanting.

Want to know if Disney Cruise Line is worth the cost? Read all about what Disney Cruise Line has to offer here!

Getting ready to set sail? Here’s what you need to know and pack for your big Disney Cruise Line Vacation.

Sea you onboard!

Ready to book your next Disney Cruise vacation?  Explore sailings here or email your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor or

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Jamie Rumph
Jamie Rumph
Hi, I'm Jamie, traveling mama, entrepreneur, and travel advisor. I'm addicted to Disney, traveling and exploring the world with my family, and have a passion for helping families experience the magic of travel. My home is filled with love and chaos, 2 crazy girls, 2 large dogs, and the most spectacular architect and Disney Cast Member I call my husband. We live in Florida and spend our weekends playing at Orlando's many theme parks and visiting the beach. In 2015, after helping numerous families plan their vacations to various Disney Destinations, I started a blog to answer all of the many travel questions I received daily. In 2016, the blog grew into a travel agency, and Love of the Magic Vacations was born. With a team of nearly 20, we spend our days creating family vacations around the world. What started as a blog is now a full service, worldwide vacation destination planning service. I create custom itineraries for each of my clients that not only meets but exceeds expectations. There is no greater gift than making memories while sharing the world and its cultures with your kids.


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