Pandas are beloved around the world, and now they’re coming to the Fleet‘s Heikoff Giant Dome Theater in the IMAX® original film Pandas. This breathtaking documentary adventure is an amazing experience for the whole family. Narrated by Kristen Bell (”Frozen,” TV‘s ”The Good Place“). Pandas follows a curious cub named Qian Qian (pronounced ”Chen Chen”) and a team of scientists in a cross-cultural collaboration to release captive-born pandas to their natural, wild habitat.

Meet black bears in New Hampshire and giant pandas in China in this fascinating film. Rated G. Closed captioning available.

After years of success breeding captive pandas, scientists at Chengdu Panda Base in China are taking their efforts to the next stage and preparing captive-born cubs for release in the wild. This model is based on the efforts of Dr. Ben Kilham, who, for 20 years, has been raising orphaned black bear cubs in New Hampshire and later releasing them into the wild. Dr. Hou Rong, Director of Research at Chengdu Panda Base, uses Dr. Kilham‘s method to reintroduce captive-born cubs to their natural habitat in an effort to combat a shrinking wild panda population. Leading the charge at the Chengdu Panda Base in this endeavor is Dr. Jake Owens and research assistant Bi Wen Lei.

Join Qian Qian on her exciting new adventures into the mountains of Sichuan as she experiences nature for the first time and discovers the freedom—and perils—of the wild side.

Did You Know?

The giant panda is a national treasure and a symbol of pride in China. To date, there are more than 300 pandas in captivity in facilities around the globe, and there are only about 2,000 pandas in the wild. Giant pandas are an endangered species, largely due to loss of habitat by human development and scarcity of their primary food—bamboo. Giant pandas eat up to 50 pounds of bamboo per day, but because bamboo lacks protein and most other nutritional value, this diet results in a lower energy threshold. When pandas aren't eating bamboo—which they can do for approximately 10 to 16 hours per day—they can usually be found sleeping.

From Captivity to the Wild

Dr. Rong has implemented an extremely successful captive breeding program at Chengdu Panda Base, with more than 200 baby pandas born during her tenure. To successfully reintroduce pandas to the wild, the program follows several phases:

Phase One occurs at Chengdu Panda Base. Located on the outskirts of Chengdu, a city with a population of about 15 million people, the lives of the pandas at the panda base are drastically different from what they would experience in the wild. Frequent visitors and city noise are stimuli to which the pandas become accustomed. After they are born, the cubs that are selected for the release program are those that show a certain curiosity or fearlessness that would serve them well in the wild. Once the cubs are several months old, they and their mothers are transported to Panda Valley in Dujiangyan, a larger facility with fewer people and no city noises. Here, they prepare to go from captive conditions to semi-wild conditions. Pandas in this semi-wild enclosure explore native vegetation and wildlife, gain strength and adjust to their new settings. The last step occurs at Liziping Nature Reserve, a 50-acre enclosure that's closed to the public. Pandas like Qian Qian learn to function on their own before walking through the gate that separates their enclosure from the wild mountains beyond.

Behind the Scenes

From start to finish, Pandas took three years to film, with eight film shoots spread out over several continents. From production in New Hampshire to China, filmmakers David Douglas and Drew Fellman encountered sweeping scenery in all seasons, from the busy city to the countryside and far up into the towering mountains. The result is a visually stunning production, shot specifically for IMAX audiences, using a 15 perf, 2-strip 3D film camera, a single strip camera, stereo 4K, stereo 6K and stereo 8K.

Learn more about the film on the Pandas IMAX website.

Public Shows, School Shows, Group Sales, Private Screenings

Pandas is available for public screenings, school field trip shows, group reservations and private screenings. For school or group reservations, please contact the Client Services Department at (619) 238-1233 ext. 806 or or request a trip online.

Teachers! The Educator Guide for this film is available for download here.

If you would like to arrange a private screening of the film, please contact the Special Events Department at (619) 685-5729 or

Tickets for public screenings are on sale at the Fleet Science Center ticket counter and at Discounted tickets are available to the military and their family members at local military ticket offices. Military can show ID at the Fleet Science Center ticket counter for 10% off ticket sales.


A shy young panda cub hides from the camera behind a stalk of bamboo
A panda photographed from a lower angle looks up off screen. The area is lush greenery and a fern crosses in front of the seated and gazing panda.
Assistive listening devices enhance narration and dialogue and lower sound effects. Ask at the ticket counter.
Escucha el audio en español mientras ves la función en inglés. Solicita los audífonos de cortesía en la taquilla.
When you purchase your ticket, tell the associate that you would like to use the complimentary closed-caption service.

“The world-famous San Diego Zoo has a new Balboa Park rival for the best view of pandas.”

“It’s the perfect movie to bring the family to when you’re on your next trip to Balboa Park.”

"They may not be versed in the ancient discipline of Kung Fu, but Qian Qian and company prove every bit as awesome in the gorgeously immersive Pandas..."

"After watching David Douglas and Drew Fellman’s visually spectacular, technically amazing, and occasionally cutesy documentary, “Pandas,” you’d think that IMAX … was invented solely for close-ups of adorable panda cubs..."

"The delightful ‘Pandas’ is about as perfect as IMAX nature documentaries can get: informative, family-friendly, beautifully and immersively photographed ..."

"Directed by Drew Fellman and David Douglas, the film’s short format, breathtaking cinematography and engaging narration by Kristen Bell make it enrapturing and heartwarming."

"Pandas is a breathtaking ode to the beauty of nature, with a subtle reminder of the importance of conservation and the reality of extinction."

Generously Sponsored in Part by:



Jul 14

Jul 15

Jul 16

Jul 17

Jul 18

Jul 19

Jul 20

Jul 21

Jul 22

Jul 23

Jul 24

Jul 25

Jul 26

Jul 27

Jul 28

Jul 29

Jul 30

Jul 31


Spark your curiosity & become a member

Create a new adventure every visit with a membership.