The parade has been put on hiatus twice during its run. Both times, it was temporarily replaced with "Pixar Pals," an interactive show that featured characters only from Monsters, Inc. and The Incredibles. The first time was on January 4, 2011 due to the amount of construction going on at the park. It was originally set to return in November, but construction was still going on, so Pixar Pals continued until May 2012. Pixar Play Parade returned on June 15 to coincide with the grand opening of Disney California Adventure. The second time was during the 2016 Food & Wine Festival. However, this time, Pixar pals only featured The Incredibles, no Monsters, Inc.. When the festival ended, Pixar Play Parade returned.
A week after the parade debuted, an accident took place on the A Bug's Life float. One of the platforms on a swing in the back portion of the float broke off during a performance. Fortunately, the performer was able to get off the swing before it broke. For three months, only the front portion of the float remained in the parade. Disney put a suspension on all acrobatic acts in the parade, but it was lifted after less than a month later. The back portion of the float returned to the parade in July.
The parade is composed of several units, each one based off of a specific Pixar films. Each one is set to a cover version of a particular song. During transitions from one unit to another, "Countdown to Fun! and The Party's On" plays.
- Monsters University Unit: A group of Monsters University cheerleaders, as well as Scott Squibbles, Art and Terri and Terry Perry, lead the parade with Roz, twirling a baton, and James P. Sullivan, who is driving an oddly shaped drum, in his Monsters University jacket. A small animated figure of Mike Wazowski in a Monsters University cap sits on the back of the float, inviting the parade viewers to chant the Monsters University fight song. Then a few CDA members follow. The unit was originally set to a cover version of "Bang the Drum All Day" originally by Todd Rundgren, but it was replaced by the Monsters University fight song.
- The Incredibles Unit: The Incredibles float features a large replica of Syndrome's Omnidroid 10 with two arms moving around the float and two performers occasionally spouting water. Jack-Jack Parr rides on one of the arms of the droid, occasionally shooting flames from his head. Violet Parr is seen on the other arm of the Omnidroid in a force field. Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone ride in front of the float on individual hovercrafts, along with dancers on spring-loaded stilts. The unit is set to a cover version of "Don't Stop Me Now," originally performed by Queen.
- Ratatouille Unit (2008-2010): Chefs on stilts lead in the large food-themed float while Remy stands on the front of the float in front of Chef Gusteau's cookbook while other rats hang from spaghetti on other sections of the float and Emile waves and dances to guests in a ladle. This unit usually did not run regularly. It was set to a cover version of "Yummy Yummy Yummy" originally by Ohio Express. In 2010, it was removed due to the installation of the Red Car Trolly Electric cables, which the unit was too tall to fit under.
- Finding Nemo Unit: Puppets of Marlin, Nemo, Dory and Squirt lead this section of the parade with the float behind them. The float features oversized pieces of coral and a large Crush puppet with water-squirting baby turtles. Female performers with large jellyfish puppets follow the float. The unit is set to a cover of the pop standard, "Sea Cruise."
- A Bug's Life Unit: This is the longest float in the parade. It features Flik and Atta on a two-person swing with Dot looking on, along with two larger swings in the back portion of the float capable of swinging almost 360-degrees around the top of the float. Heimlich leads the float, pushing a water-squirting flower with him, occasionally splitting into multiple portions as he walks. Slim takes up the rear portion of the float dancing and playing with a smaller female bug and waving to guests. The unit is set to "Bugs Just Want to Have Fun," in melody of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" originally by Cyndi Lauper.
- Toy Story Units: This unit has five separate portions. The first portion consists of a walking tinkertoy figure and the Green Army Men led by their commander, possibly Sarge. The tinkertoy figure squirts water through its fingers. The second portion features Aliens armed with squirt guns. The third portion is a float that features a large clear globe with plastic balls bouncing around inside and Buzz Lightyear atop the float in a rocket. The fourth portion has Mr. Potato Head in the construction truck from Toy Story 3. The fifth and final section, seemingly pulled by Hamm, features Rex standing atop a large Pixar Ball, holding a long bar in his mouth which acts as a beam for gymnasts to swing around on, along with Woody and Jessie on a motorized teeter-totter squirting water from spring-action shooters. Slinky Dog's front portion stands on the back of the float while his back portion walks along the route following the float, creating the illusion that he is pushing the float. The unit is set to a cover version of "You've Got a Friend in Me," originally by Randy Newman.
- Cars Unit: There is no float, but bringing up the rear of the parade are Lightning McQueen in his World Grand Prix paint job and Mater. On July 9, 2014, the unit became set to a cover version of "Life is a Highway," originally by Tom Cochrane.