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  • Writer's pictureAnna Wildish

The Secret Part of Every Disney Cruise

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

So, you’ve made the decision to go on a Disney Cruise (an excellent decision to make). You’re aware of the amazing destinations they go to, are excited about the kids’ club and adult friendly activities you’ll get to take advantage of, and are already imagining your toes in the warm sand at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

Now all you can do is wait the agonizing weeks or months until it’s time to board the ship. Right?


Here is a little secret: there is a special “club” you can join for each Disney Cruise you go on. It’s free, fun, and completely up to you how you participate. And you can join in as soon as you get that reservation confirmation.

Here is how:

Search for Your Cruise Facebook Group

Chances are someone created a Facebook group specifically for the exact cruise you are going on. Simply search in Facebook for your Cruise Ship and sailing date (ex. Disney Fantasy March 23, 2019) and see if a group has been created. Then ask to join!

People use these Facebook groups to connect and get to know their fellow cruisers BEFORE embarkation day. Bringing kids along with you? Find other parents with kids their age in the group and arrange an introduction. Single and cruising? Find other singles. You get the idea.

Now this big ship full of strangers becomes a ship full of friends. And you haven’t even checked in yet.

Fish Extender Gift Exchange

There is a secret gift exchange that people do on these cruises using Fish Extenders. Why fish you ask? There are these cute little fish on the wall outside every cabin on a Disney Cruise Ship. They stick out of the wall a bit so people started hanging a banner of pockets from them. The Fish Extender was born!

People use the Fish Extenders to participate in the Fish Exchange, which is an exchanging of gifts with your fellow cruisers. If you choose to participate, you must join the Fish Exchange Group. You can find information about the exchange in your Facebook group. (Note, being a part of the Facebook group does not mean you are automatically part of the exchange. You need to take the second step to join the exchange as directed.)

You then buy or make gifts for everyone in your Fish Exchange Group and bring them with you on the cruise. Once on board, hang your Fish Extender outside your door so you can receive your gifts. Then start delivering yours.

I have not done this myself, but it sounds so fun! Imagine how excited your kids will get when they see what surprises were left for them in the Fish Extender. And how much joy you will bring to your fellow cruisers with your gifts.

There are tons of ideas and instructions out there on how to make a Fish Extender, ideas for small and thoughtful gifts to give, and more. So, Google and Etsy away!

Stateroom Door Decorations

Perhaps the Fish Exchange seems a bit overwhelming to you. You can still participate in the ship fun in a smaller way.

All the stateroom doors on the ship are magnetic. People go all out decorating their doors. Here is a picture of our door from a recent cruise on the Fantasy. I made these magnets myself using a template I found online, glittery poster board, foam stickers, and ribbon. I am not super crafty, but these were fun and easy to make and I was happy with the way they turned out.

People who are crafty can really showcase their talents here. I’ve seen some very creative door decorations. People theme their Mickey heads to showcase who they are or what they do, made various Disney characters out of their state room number circle, or simply got creative with the season they were sailing in. I’ve even seen someone turn their stateroom number circle into Big Ben with Peter Pan and Wendy flying by. So fun!

There are so many possibilities, and again, Google and Etsy are your friends.

Now you’re in on the Disney cruising secret!

PS -- There is a secret Disney sanctioned thing on every cruise too: the sleepwalking Goofy! See if you can spot him wandering around the ship on your next cruise.

PPS -- I would love to see pictures of your decorated stateroom doors! Post them in the comments.

I am a travel agent with Magical Vacation Planner and can help you plan an unforgettable vacation with your family. Email me, head to my Facebook page, or set up time to chat if you’d like to start planning your magical vacation.

Or head here to download your copy of my free Disney Vacation planning worksheets.



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