Giant-Screen Theater

Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater

Welcome to The Downing 3D Experience, the largest Dolby® 3D theater for a museum in California! Visitors to the San Diego Natural History Museum will be dazzled by the latest in digital 3D technology that delivers a premium viewing experience from anywhere in the 300-seat, stadium-style theater. 

All film times subject to change daily. Assistive Listening Devices for films and lectures in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater are available.  Please inquire with the theater attendant or with the Admission Desk.

Films in the giant-screen theater are included with paid admission and also with Balboa Park Explorer Passes, GO San Diego Cards and for members of the San Diego Natural History Museum. Tickets are available at the Admissions Desks at the Museum.

The Downing 3D Experience in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater is sponsored by John and Tracy Downing, the Downing Family Foundation, the Eleanor and Jerry Navarra Family, Jerome’s Furniture, and Stephen Cohen, President, Private Asset Management, Inc.

Theater Schedule

11 AM
Wild Africa 3D
25 minutes

12 PM
Ocean Oasis 2D
40 minutes

1 PM
A Reef Reborn 3D
25 minutes

1:45 PM
Wild Africa 3D
25 minutes

2:30 PM
Ocean Oasis 2D
40 minutes

3:30 PM
A Reef Reborn 3D
25 minutes

4:15 PM
Wild Africa 3D
25 minutes

On Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Museum will be offering the following showtimes as part of Balboa Park After Dark*.

5 PM
Ocean Oasis
40 minutes

6 PM
Whales 3D
20 minutes

7 PM
Reef Reborn 3D
25 minutes

*Exceptions apply. See website for details.

Movie Trailers

Wild Africa 3D

Wild Africa takes audiences on a spectacular journey across, over, and through the magical realms of the wildest continent on earth. Water serves as a guide, shaping wild Africa and conjuring up life wherever it journeys…above the plains on seasonal winds, cascading along raging rivers or sheltering coral cities. Audiences will be plunged into fantastic places and meet amazing creatures, discovering the fascinating secrets of this incredible world. It’s an adventure where you will truly believe the real world is more extraordinary and awe-inspiring than any fiction. From BBC Earth, Reliance Entertainment and IM Global, this is one of the most ambitious 3D nature films ever to premiere on the giant screen, fusing Hollywood techniques with the best in nature filmmaking and storytelling.  



A Reef Reborn

Immerse yourself into a world of swirling sardines, majestic sea turtles, and eye-popping life. This inspiring story of transformation takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Cabo Pulmo reef in Baja California. Meet the people and animals that call this extraordinary location home. Take a journey through time to see how science, human courage, and the irrepressibility of nature resurrected a community and its greatest natural treasure. Support for this film was provided by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and the International Community Foundation Candeo Fund at the recommendation of Christy Walton. Read more.



Ocean Oasis

Take a fascinating journey into two remarkably different, but inextricably linked worlds—Mexico’s Sea of Cortés and the Baja California desert. Ocean Oasis , a giant-screen film, mesmerizes audiences as they witness the beauty of life in Baja California's rich waters and seemingly barren land. Note: Ocean Oasis is a 2D film. Produced by the San Diego Natural History Museum, Summerhays Films, and PRONATURA A.C., with sponsorship from Sempra Energy. Winner of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and the International Wildscreen Film Festival.



Coming Soon

Sea Monsters 3D

National Geographic’s film Sea Monsters 3D brings to life the extraordinary marine reptiles of the dinosaur age. From the giraffe-necked Styxosaurus and 20-foot “bulldog” fish Xiphactinus to the T. rex of the ocean—the 40-foot super-predator Tylosaurus—these wondrous beasts defy imagination. Sea Monsters 3D weaves together spectacular photorealistic animation with standout finds from paleontological digs around the world—treasures that shed light on the film’s incredible cast of characters. Narrated by Tony Award-winning actor Liev Schreiber, this 3D film experience takes viewers on a remarkable journey into the relatively unexplored world of the monstrous reptiles that lurked beneath the water.