The original design of the attraction had 10 ride vehicles which were intended to represent not the "one and only" Dumbo, but the alcohol-induced "pink elephants" scene from the film. In fact, the working title of the attraction was "10 Pink Elephants On Parade" and the elephants were painted pink on installation. Walt Disney objected, not wishing Disneyland's guests to ride vehicles themed to a hallucination and thereby ordered them painted grey.
The ride was scheduled to be one of Disneyland's opening-day attractions, but instead opened a month after the park's grand opening, due to the fiberglass prototypes weighing 700 pounds. For the first two years, the hub of the original Dumbo ride lacked the disco ball with the Timothy Mouse figure. Also, the original Dumbos has hinged ears that were supposed to flap, but failed, due to a number of mechanical problems. So, the ears remained stationary until the mid-1960s, when new Dumbos were given casts with no hinges for movement. The attraction was given another slightly "newer" modification around 1978.
During his 1957 visit to Disneyland, former United States President Harry S. Truman politely declined a ride on Dumbo the Flying Elephant, due to the elephant being a Republican symbol.
During the 1970s, the attraction was planned to be expanded and renamed "Dumbo's Circusland" and was displayed in "Disneyland Presents a Preview of Coming Attractions", but was cancelled.
In 1983, as part of Fantasyland's major remodeling, the ride was moved to where Skull Rock used to be, allowing Dumbo's original location to be a shortcut to Frontierland. It was completely rebuilt with a kinetic toymaker-like design, although ten elephants were still used and Timothy still held the whip. In a featurette of the ride, as shown on the DVD release of the film's 70th anniversary, the head Disney imagineer, Tony Baxter, even noted that the new ride looked like one of Gepetto's inventions.
In 1990, the attraction was updated with the 16 rainbow-colored vehicles (and Timothy's magic feather) originally intended for installation at Disneyland Paris, after an incident during which a bracket support broke.
During the 1992 Disneyana convention, one of the original ride vehicles sold for US$16,000. Like other remaining 1955 attractions, one of Disneyland's Dumbos was painted gold in honor of the park's 50th anniversary in 2005. During that same time, Timothy's magic feather was replaced by the whip.
The installation at Disneyland was manufactured by Arrow Development.
At Disneyland, a circa 1915 band organ occasionally provides background music for the attraction. This powerful instrument can be heard more than a mile away, so it is rarely played.
Soar high in the sky on a fanciful flight above Fantasyland aboard Dumbo the Flying Elephant.