During the film, the clowns that Dumbo has worked with are changing into their casual clothes and celebrating a successful fireman act with champagne. They come up with a plan for their next act, and while they are leaving to tell their boss, one accidentally hits the table with the bottle of champagne which drops into Dumbo's water bucket, which is right outside their break tent. Dumbo and Timothy drink the spiked water and become instantly and heavily drunk. Dumbo blows some bubbles for Timothy to play with, and at Timothy's request, he blows a "great big one". Then, Dumbo and Timothy start to hallucinate the bubble transforming into an elephant that makes more elephants. These colorful hallucinations sing and dance around and scare Dumbo and Timothy. Eventually, the effects of the champagne wear off and the elephants fade away.
The Pink Elephants appear in the 2019 remake but under very different circumstances. The alcohol-induced dream sequence is not present. Instead, they appear as bubbles during the circus at Dreamland as the act prior to Dumbo's first performance in the park. Several performers create bubbles using bubble wands, which then combine into Pink Elephants. Dumbo watches the performance, and rather than being scared like in the original film, he finds the act amusing, bobbing his head to the music.
The Pink Elephants appear in a few episodes of the series.
In the episode "Mickey and Minnie's Big Vacation," while Donald and Daisy are in charge of the club, they saw the Pink Elephants being created by Mrs. Potts as one of their faulty acts (along with 101 Dragons). They cause havoc to the guests, such as drinking Clarabelle's milk, knocking Timon into Goofy's dirty dishes, acting as a canoe for Pocahontas, being weights for Hercules (eventually causing him to fall through the floor), throwing Ursula on top of Goofy, stealing Pooh's honey (a reference to Heffalumps), and frightening Dumbo. Fortunately, Timothy was able to get rid of the technicolor creatures by scaring them away with a wooden sign that had the word "Boo!" written on it.
In the original storyboard, one of the Pink Elephants was planned to be one of the Beetleworx enemies in the game, but that idea was scrapped in the final game.
Though difficult to find in the game's main hub city, Mean Street, if one were to go to the construction area, a patch of walling can be thinned out to reveal the Pink Elephants, a still picture identical to the one present above.
Pink Elephants appear in the Disneyland version of Fantasmic!, where they were dancing to their song.
In the 2017 update, they appear at the end of the show's jungle-themed act, which then transitions into a reworked version of the Pink Elephants segment from the original show.
The Pink Elephants are part of Dumbo's spell card for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. The title of the card is "Dumbo's Pink Elephant Parade".
The Pink Elephants are the first set of characters Donald Duck encounters in the former show, Animagique. When they first appear before him, they perform a shortened version of the original Pink Elephants song. After that, Donald thanks them, and watches them exit.
- "Seeing pink elephants" is a euphemism for drunken hallucination caused by alcoholic hallucinosis or delirium tremens. The term dates back to the early 20th century, emerging from earlier idioms about snakes and other creatures.
- The Pink Elephants' musical number is very controversial due to the inclusion of alcohol and drunkenness. Because of this, several book adaptations of the film often cut out their scene and sometimes replace it with a new scene of Dumbo falling asleep and dreaming about flying.
- The Guardian columnist Henry Barnes wrote that the role of alcohol in unlocking Dumbo's gift was "a terrible, adult message". He praised the sequence but argued that "Drunken pink elephants have no place in a children's movie".
- The Pink Elephants are spoofed in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures when Plucky Duck gets Einstein's smarts.
- They are also parodied in the "Art Crawl" episode of Bob's Burgers.
- A Pink Elephant made a cameo on The Simpsons where it crushes a goblin hallucination Barney was experiencing that was caused by a peyote-laced organic drink. Afterward, Barney thanks it and claims that it's always been there for him.
- Part of the Pink Elephants' parade was heard playing on TV in Disney's 2007 film Enchanted.
- The Pink Elephants' theme music is played in the Donald Duck short Tea for Two Hundred, when the ants are marching to steal Donald's picnic food.
- Recycled footage of the elephants was used in the "Heffalumps and Woozles" musical number from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.