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Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Line Fish Extenders

Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post helps support Family Travel Magazine®. We purchased our own Disney Cruise fish extender, fish extender gifts, and paid our own way on the Disney Dream. We have been on other Disney cruises at no cost or minimum cost. All opinions are my own.

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Disney Cruise Line Fish Extenders

Please note that this fun tradition has been temporarily suspended due to the current situation.

If you are going on a Disney Cruise anytime soon, you may have heard about Disney Cruise Line fish extenders. Disney Cruise FE gifts are a fun way to share SWAPS with other cruisers – especially when traveling with kids. They are totally optional, but lots of fun when you are cruising with kids! Here’s everything you need to know about fish extenders.

Going on a Disney cruise? Have you heard about Fish Extenders? Here's everything you need to know about Disney Cruise Line Fish Extenders including how to sign up, DIY homemade ideas, fun examples, links to Etsy shops, and more!
The Aqua Lab from above

Related: Disney Cruise Line Tips for First Timers

What’s a Disney Cruise fish extender?

With such a unique name, there’s no surprise that most people don’t know what a Disney fish extender even is! On the Disney Cruise Line, each of the staterooms has a small silver fish or seahorse to the right or left of the door. Usually, it’s used to hold invitations, receipts, and correspondence during your cruise, but those participating in a Disney cruise fish extender exchange hang a bag or special holder to the “fish” to serve as a mailbox. I’m not sure when the tradition started, but it’s something that some, but not every cruiser participates in.

If you want to participate, you sign up for the fish extender exchange, provide your information and stateroom number, and make little goodies for each person or each cabin. It’s really up to you!

Entrance at the Port to the cruise ship

How to get a fish extender.

While you can certainly just hang a bag from your fish or seahorse, many cruisers opt to make or buy a personalized holder. Looking for a Disney fish extender for sale (rather than making your own)? There are lots of options on for fish extenders on Etsy. (I got mine from Ava Baby Co).

Chip helping little girl on computer

If you are wondering how to make a fish extender, you’ll find lots of tutorials online. As you can see from the photo of the fish above, there isn’t the biggest space to hang your fish extender. It’s probably best to make it about 9 inches at the widest point (usually the hanger) and about 3-4 feet long. I’ve seen elaborate fish extenders that are sewn and embroidered, as well as some that are handmade with cardboard and glue.

The important thing is to have the right number of pockets for the number of people participating. Ours has three pockets – one for my husband and I, one for my daughter, and one for my son. You’ll want to label each pocket so the gift giver knows where to put the individual items.

How to sign up for a fish extender exchange.

Visit the DIS Boards forum page for Disney Cruise Meets (link here) and sign up with your names and stateroom number, or search on Facebook for the date of your sailing. Depending on the size of the group, you may break up into smaller groups or just stick with one group. Definitely continue to visit the forum to get more information on all of the cruisers – as you get closer to cruise time you can make a list of all of the names, ages, and staterooms.

When I first published this post, there were many Disney Cruise Meets on the DIS Boards. Now, however, many of these meets are happening on Facebook. Search Facebook for your ship and dates and you are likely to find a group. Do it early though, before the groups are already formed.

An example of a Fish (for fish extenders) on a Disney Cruise Line ship.

Fish Extender Gift Ideas: What to give for fish extender gifts.

This is the fun part – the sky’s the limit! We got so many fun Fish Extender gifts on our recent Disney Dream cruise –  here are some ideas for the best Disney fish extender gifts:

  • Minnie/Mickey hair accessories
  • Little “nip” bottles of alcohol for mom and dad
  • Magnets to decorate our stateroom door (some of these were personalized for our sailing and I still have them!)
  • Bubbles for the kids
  • Glow sticks for Pirate Night
  • Calendars
  • Pirate eye patches
  • Games
  • Nail accessories
  • Beach items
  • Flashlight
  • Water bottles

You may wonder what the worst fish extender gifts are. While I don’t necessarily think anything is the “worst”, people seem to dislike things are that are cheap or impersonal. DON’T feel obligated to spend too much money though. Creativity is the key here. We absolutely loved the handmade magnets we received, so have fun with it! Also follow the guidelines for your specific cruise. If everyone is giving individual gifts, you won’t want to give just one small stateroom item.

When we participated in the Disney fish extender exchange, we made a bag for each stateroom – each contained specific items for each member of the family. Here are three of things we made:

Disney Cruise Line Fish Extenders

I bought these luggage tags online. They are sold as wedding favors, but I removed the ribbons and thank you tags and replaced them with Mickey and Minnie ribbons. Each stateroom got one. (Note, these have recently been discontinued, but you may be able to find something similar).

Disney Cruise Line Fish Extenders gift - bracelets

I also customized hand sanitizer bottles for each room. I bought small hand sanitizer bottles at Target, along with Avery shipping labels. I bought the Avery Shipping Labels with TrueBlock Technology that hide the label underneath, so I didn’t need to remove the existing labels. With a little Photoshop work with some ship clipart I found, I made labels, printed them, and then cut them down to size.

My kids also got in on the fish extender fun by making Mickey-inspired rainbow loom bracelets. Each of the kids on our fish extender list got one.

Do You Have to Participate in the Fish Extender Exchange?

You absolutely do not! We did it for our first cruise, and then haven’t done it since. It’s a lot of work, and takes up so much room in your luggage. We are so glad that we did it the first time, but haven’t felt the need to do it since then. It’s really up to you. If you enjoy crafting, it’s really a fun project, and a great way to meet other people. For our first cruise, my kids loved the opportunity to walk around the ship delivering the various packages.

Looking to decorate your stateroom door? Read this post. You can also find some great Disney products for your vacation online at the Disney Store (I especially recommend buying the autograph books before you leave)
For more information on everything Disney, follow our Disney Tips and Stuff Pinboard.

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Going on a Disney cruise? Have you heard about Fish Extenders? Here's everything you need to know about Disney Cruise Line Fish Extenders including how to sign up, DIY homemade ideas, fun examples, links to Etsy shops, and more!

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carol zschunke

Friday 8th of January 2016

please someone tell me how do we sign up for the fish extender and group on disney cruise Magic we are going on jan 29 2016 i can't find help anywhere!!!please someone some kind soul help us!!

Rochelle Malliett

Thursday 10th of March 2016

I can not figure this out looks like you already went on your trip. I go May 18 2016 dis Wonder. If you have figured it out could you tell me what to do. Thank you so much Rochelle


Monday 7th of December 2015

Hi Jodi. Trying to start out joining fish extenders saw your thread and appreciate all your ideas. Signed up on the site and trying to enter into the thread but can not seem to find how to post or enter a thread...duhhh... Any tips you can give? Never heard of fish extenders and this will be our 5th disney cruise. We are doing a short three day one on the Dream 2/12/16

Any advise would be much appreciated

Lynn Wilson

Saturday 27th of June 2015

Jodi , where did you buy the luggage tags.? Am going on a cruise but thought these might be so cute for christmas gifts. Have looked for them but haven't found them . Thanks !!

Jodi Grundig

Monday 29th of June 2015

Lynn, They are now discontinued, but you can still get them on Amazon (much more $ than I paid though). (affiliate)

Sarah Chaiban

Friday 29th of May 2015

Hi! Do you know if there is a FE group for November 25, 2016 Disney Wonder? Thanks!


Thursday 5th of March 2015

I've seen these on a Disney cruise and it looks like lots of fun. Is this only a Disney thing? We're looking into going on a river cruise and it seems to me it would be a fun way to meet other like minded people. Of course river cruises have much fewer people on them.

Jodi Grundig

Thursday 5th of March 2015

I haven't heard of them on other cruises - they are fun though!!

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