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Whenever we have a Disney Cruise planned, I find myself fielding a common question from friends: Are you going to participate in the Fish Extenders?! And during our 3 night Magic sailing and our 3 night Dream sailing, my answer was always, “No, I can’t handle one more thing besides packing for a massive road trip to the ship and several days in the Parks.”
But this year, I was totally ready to give it a try. And it was a BLAST!
Whether you’re a Fish Extender Pro or a total rookie like we were, I hope that this post gives you some good ideas as you get ready for YOUR Disney Cruise!
What ARE Fish Extenders? Fish Extender is a gift exchange between fellow cruisers on a Disney Cruise. On Disney Cruise Ships, every cabin door has a metal fish next to it. This fish serves as a hook/shelf for crew to leave you your info regarding spa/restaurant/port adventure/etc reservation info. It also makes the perfect hook to hang a “Fish Extender” to collect little gifts from other cruisers.
How do I get a Fish Extender? That’s up to you! Many people make their own – I have seen everything from pocket organizers from Staples decorated and strung together with ribbon, to fabric versions that people sew. Other people (us included) purchase fish extenders from the many sellers on sites like Etsy.
How do I find a Fish Extender Group to join? There seem to be two main ways to find FE Groups to join. Sometimes you can find them on the thread for your particular DCL sailing on DisBoards. Almost all DCL sailings also end up with their own private Facebook group. Search on Facebook using your ship name and sail date to find your group. This is how I signed up for our FE exchange group. We had a thread in the Facebook group and a couple group members organized everyone into groups in spreadsheets.
What’s the difference between a Fish Extender Group and “being pixie dusted?” If you sign up for a FE group, you will receive a number of cabins to bring gifts for. You are also always welcome to “pixie dust” other cruisers who may not be in your FE group but have FEs hanging off their fish hooks. We were pixie dusted multiple times throughout our week on the Magic, mostly candy and other little trinkets.
If you do not want to sign up for an FE group, you can still always pixie dust others and hope that you are pixie dusted in return.
How/when do I deliver my Fish Extender gifts? The “how” is simple – you literally walk around the ship and deliver your gifts to those in your exchange group. The “when” is entirely up to you, however I recommend avoiding the days that the ship is in port. Typically when the ship is in port, many people are off the ship for most of the day and your gifts will be sitting there for hours. I have heard of incidents of theft (not many, but it happens) and obviously the longer the gifts sit outside the cabin, the more attention they might draw.
How much money do I need to spend on Fish Extender gifts? That is entirely up to you. We received everything from dollar store candy and trinkets to DIY projects that obviously took people a bit of time. We went the DIY route and were able to keep our gift cost to $1-2 per person. You also have the option to gift something to each individual in your exchange group OR you can give one gift to the entire cabin.
Fish Extender Ideas!
Ponchos for each adult with a printable poem: This was our gift to the adults in our FE exchange. I bought blank red drawstring pouches on clearance after the holidays last year. I used my Silhouette to cut black Mickey Heads out of heat transfer vinyl. A poncho from the Dollar Tree went into each bag. I wrote a little poem and printed it out on cardstock.
Personalized Chalkboards: This was our gift for the little kid crowd. I bought blank chalkboards and cut their names in vinyl on my Silhouette. I used the “Waltograph” Disney-inspired font. Then I cut Mickey Heads out of vinyl and used them to affix 2 pieces of chalk to each board.
Glow Sticks for Pirate Night with printable poem: This was our FE gift for the tween/teen crowd! I bought blank neoprene popsicle holders and personalized them with my Silhouette. I picked up glow sticks and gave each kid several sticks. I tucked a pirate night poem that I wrote inside the bag!
More fun ideas from the gifts that we received!
Glowing and Light-Up Toys
DIY Dry Erase Board with Marker
Navigator Tool Kit with handy helpers for the cruise
Drink Tumbler with handy items for trip
CD with Disney Music
DIY Ice Cream Topping Bowls – just add ice cream!
Vinyl Decals (perfect for fellow Silhouette users!)
Tissues and Hand Sanitizer
And here are some of the things we were pixie dusted with!
Most of our haul (minus a few things the kids grabbed before I could take pictures!):
Overall our experience was great! We received so many neat little gifts and the kids went bonkers every time we arrived back to our room to find more “Mickey Mail.” We did run into an issue where 2 cabins on our list were not accurate – the people who originally booked had canceled at some point and didn’t notify our group about their change of plans. That was a bit crappy, since I took the time to personalize our gifts and couldn’t just re-gift, but it was just a small blip in the road.
Definitely consider participating on a Fish Extender Exchange on your next Disney Cruise!
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