Fish Extender Groups (FE Groups)
What is a FE Group?
Every stateroom on a Disney Cruise has a ‘fish’ beside the door. This is a hook that Disney uses to place notes, Palo Reservations and any other document they wish give you during the cruise.
A Fish Extender is an item with pockets you hand on the fish hook with pocket for other guests to put small gifts into.
A FE Group is a group of Disney cruisers that get together before the cruise and decide they are going to exchange gifts with each other. Typically the FE Group will consist of 10-15 cabins; although there are no limit on how small or large it a FE Group can be.
Getting Your Fish Extender
Getting a Fish Extender pouch is easy. You can order one on ETSY or EBAY or purchase a plain pouch through Amazon Fish Extenders and decorate it yourself. Ideally you what a pouch for each family member decorated with their names. Make sure your Fish Extender has a loop of string/ribbon to hang from your Fish Hook. DO NOT bring a fish extender that hangs from the top of the door edge… that is not allowed.
How To Find an FE Groups To Join
Since FE Groups are unofficial and not sponsored or recognized by Disney so all FE Groups are formed outside of Disney itself; typically on social media websites. These days there is almost always a Facebook group for every Disney Cruise and the group administrator will help facilitate the creating and joining of the FE Groups. To find the main Facebook Disney Cruise group search on Facebook by “Ship Name Cruise Start Date”. For example: Disney Wonder June 15 2020. Facebook Disney Cruise groups are typically private so you will have to request to join. If you are not on Facebook many of the bigger Disney Forums will also have groups for the individual Disney Cruises and FE Groups you can join. Typically the Disney Cruise groups are created 1-2 years before sailing date and FE Groups start to be created at that time. FE Groups will be finalized about 30 days before sail date and lists of who is in what group and their cabin numbers are made available to members of each group.
Of course there is no requirement that you have to go through the main Facebook/Forum Disney Cruise groups to join a FE Group. If you are cruising with a large group you can create FE Groups within that group and any number of people on a cruise can get together outside of the standard social media cruise groups create their own group.
FE Group Gifting
If you are a member of an FE Group you typically give at least one gift to each cabin in your group. I like to split up adults and children, giving one gift for the adults and something different for each child. You place the items in the cabins Fish Extender sometime during the cruise.
For the children I shop at Target and Michaels in the discount section. For under $10.00 you can get wonderful items such as glow sticks, notebooks/journals for the older kids and little lipsticks and other makeup kits for the girls. The gifts do not need to be Disney themed but the children seem to enjoy Disney the most.
The adults tend to be easier to find items for. Disney no longer allows the little ‘airline’ alcohol bottles which were a popular gift in the past but shot glasses and other reusable cups can be given… especially if they are Disney themed. Other ideas include travel kits, sewing kits and 1st aid kits. We love getting magnets and Christmas ornaments. One of my favorite gifts was a set of kitchen towels, one from Canada (it was a Canadian cruise) and one embroidered.
There are no rules so use your imagination. Some people like to have simple gifts that they deliver to the cabins at the beginning of the cruise and some people like to have multiple small gifts that they deliver throughout the cruise. We love getting useful gifts and gifts themed to Disney or the cruise destinations. If you are an active member of the Disney Cruise Facebook group you can sometime gather ideas from your FE Group members posts.
If you want to gift other people but don’t want to be a member of a formal FE Group you can do what is called ‘Pixie Dusting’. This is were you put gifts into peoples fish extenders without them knowing that you are the person gifting them. It can be people you’ve met during the months preceding the cruise or completely random. After 10 Disney Cruises I rarely join FE Groups but instead prefer to Pixie Dust empty Fish Extenders and people that have been very helpful on the Facebook group.
Specialized FE Groups
It is typical that there will be special ‘themed’ FE Groups. Recipe, magnet, mixology and Christmas Ornament exchange groups will often be created.
The easy part. Just put your Fish Extender hanger on you Fish Hook when you first unpack. If you joined a FE Group you will have gifts arrive throughout your cruise. Make sure you empty your fish extender often so there is always room. If you don’t join a FE group and rely only on being Pixie Dusting you might go the whole cruise without receiving anything. Most Disney Cruise Facebook groups will setup a Pixie Dust list. This is so people can Pixie Dust in a non-random manner. I recommend adding your cabin to this list if you are not part of an established FE Group. Then you can either Pixie Dust those on the list, Pixie Dust random cabins, or both.