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How to Start Your Park in "RollerCoaster Tycoon"

David is an avid gamer across multiple platforms such as consoles, handhelds, mobile phones, and PC.

Main menu from "RollerCoaster Tycoon."

Main menu from "RollerCoaster Tycoon."

About the Game

  • Released in 1999.
  • Designed by Chris Sawyer, who designed the popular game Transport Tycoon.
  • Has two expansions: Loopy Landscapes and Corkscrew Follies.

RollerCoaster Tycoon is a game that was first released in 1999. Not only did this game spawn two expansion packs, but also multiple sequels. The player was given full control over a theme park, essentially becoming the manager. The player could decide what rides to place, where to place them, what price to charge, what decorations to use, etc.

This article covers how to start your own park in RollerCoaster Tycoon. All images and videos contained within this article were made by me while playing the game. I have spent many hours in this game since its release, and I've made multiple theme parks that were successful.

Learning the Menus

There are various menus you must familiarize yourself with if you want to run a successful theme park. Those menus are:

  • Finances: This menu will cover anything you need to know about your money situation. You can take out loans here and set up advertisements for your park.
  • Research & Development: Here you can see what attraction is being researched, and set how much money you want to sink in each month to hasten the research. I recommend you set it to the maximum value to unlock as much as you can as fast as possible.
  • Rides & Attractions: This menu is very important as it can show you the profit of each of your attractions, as well as other statistics.
  • Front Entrance: Bringing this menu up will bring up the window for your front entrance. On this screen you can set the admission price guests must pay to enter your park.
  • Guests: This screen will show you what rides your guests are on, and more importantly, what they are thinking. Pay attention to what they are thinking and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Staff: On this screen, you can hire and fire your staff.
  • Recent Message: Think you missed a message? Then check this menu.

Your Staff

You will need staff to run your park. Here are some tips on how you should utilize your staff members:

  • Handymen: These guys are important for a well-maintained park. However, I would recommend you click off the option to mow grass. They can waste a lot of time doing this task which provides little benefit. Hire these guys as you see your park getting messy.
  • Mechanic: I hire one of these guys the moment I place down my first attraction. For every three to four rides, I hire another one. If you get warnings your rides aren't being repaired, hire another one.
  • Security Guard: These guys keep order in your park. At most, you will only need a few of them, as they cover a large area. If you see areas being vandalized, then hire another security guard.
  • Entertainer: For small parks these are nice, but in larger parks, you will need to hire so many they wouldn't be worth it in the long run. I tend to hire a couple just so they can hit the long lines and keep the guests happy.
New Rides & Attractions menu in "RollerCoaster Tycoon."

New Rides & Attractions menu in "RollerCoaster Tycoon."

Placement of Items

Next up are the various menus that cover the placement of items in your theme park, which is how you will make money. You won't have a successful park without a good bit of attractions, and you have to constantly add new ones to keep your guests happy. The items you have to place are:

  • Land: Here you can raise and lower land, or select different land types to use. Very useful if you have a park around a general theme.
  • Water: Great for creating lakes for water rides or for decorating your park. While costly to make, it can be well worth it.
  • Scenery & Gardens: Decorating your park is very important. It keeps your guests happy, and can even make some rides more exciting for your guests.
  • Footpaths: The only way for your guests to get around your park is by the footpaths you place. You will also use this menu to set up the queue line to your attractions.
  • New Rides & Attractions: Obviously the most important part are the rides. This is the bread and butter of your theme park, so you will be spending a lot of time in this menu while you try to figure out what rides to place.

Rides

There are various attraction types to use when determining how to start your park in RollerCoaster Tycoon:

  • Transport: Slow and steady rides such as the monorail are available here.
  • Gentle: For those who don't need a thrill, rides like the Ferris Wheel and Merry-Go-Round are here.
  • Thrill: For a short term thrill, rides like the Swinging Ship and Scrambled Eggs are located in this menu.
  • Roller Coasters: You have various ride types to choose from, all allowing you to design your own roller coaster.
  • Water Rides: Anything dealing with water, such as the Log Flume, can be discovered here.
  • Concessions: Contains the burger bar, restroom, and other types of services for your guests.

Starting Your Theme Park

The introduction video showed how you can start a park, but below is more of an explanation of what you need to do.

  1. Lay down some pathways. They don't have to be perfect, and can be corrected later, but they give you a basic layout.
  2. Place some rides. Don't start with the roller coasters, focus on the gentle and thrill rides. You want your guests to work up to the big rides, and not just go straight to them.
  3. Place your exits behind your entrances. Your guests will push forward through your park. If you put your exits behind your entrances, it will force your guests to revisit the entrance of your rides, tempting them to ride again.
  4. Add concessions. Start placing concession stands, but spread them out. If you group them together, they won't make as much money.
  5. Hire staff. Ensure you get some Handymen and Mechanics hired to keep your park up and running when you first start out.
  6. Decorate. It may seem trivial, but it's not. Guests love a nicely decorated park, so do this around all of your attractions. Watch the video below on how I improved the decorations in my park.
My car ride in my park in "RollerCoaster Tycoon," with guests riding on it.

My car ride in my park in "RollerCoaster Tycoon," with guests riding on it.

Roller Coaster Design

Once you have your park up and running, it's time to design your own ride. Don't move on to the coaster just yet. Below are some tips when designing your first ride.

  • Stick to a gentle ride, such as Car Ride. You can pick a transportation attraction as well, but those are meant to traverse the entire park. Car Ride, for example, is easy to design in a small space.
  • Design the ride around other attractions. If you lay tracks that go above or around other places in your park, it increases the excitement rating of the ride. In the video below, you can see how I placed mine around my existing park.
  • Test your ride. Test your ride to see how exciting it will be. If you get anything between a 3.5 and 4, then you have a decent first ride that you designed yourself.
  • Don't use the already designed rides. While they can be easy to place and you don't have to worry about building, it won't have the same flair as if you built it yourself.
My first roller coaster with guests on it, with other coasters intertwined around it.

My first roller coaster with guests on it, with other coasters intertwined around it.

Making a Roller Coaster

Finally, you are ready to make your first roller coaster. Below are some tips when designing a roller coaster:

  • Build it in an open area. What I like to do is build my coaster in an open area, with some parts going around existing areas. This allows me to expand my park around my coaster, and make improvements as I go.
  • Design it as if you are riding it. The physics in the RollerCoaster Tycoon universe are the same as our own. You can build a coaster with so much g-force it will make your guests sick, so design it appropriately.
  • Always test your coaster. You won't know if your coaster will be successful until you test it. This will determine if it is too intense for your guests, or maybe not exciting enough.
  • Develop the area around your coaster. Once your coaster is built, put rides, decorations, and other attractions around it to increase the excitement rating and to get more people in your park.

Making a Roller Coaster - Part 1

Making a Roller Coaster - Part 2

Starting Your Park in RollerCoaster Tycoon

In the end, it's up to you how to design your park. Each and every park is unique in nature. With the tips above it should be easy for you to earn money and be successful when designing your park in RollerCoaster Tycoon.

Have fun!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 David Livermore

Comments

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on August 02, 2020:

I used to have this game on disc when I had Windows 7. But I've just recently downloaded it again. I forgot how good this game is to play lol.

Samuel Franklin on September 06, 2014:

Really great run down of how to start a park in RCT, still one of my favourite games.

David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on February 05, 2013:

Always love the water rides. Thanks for the comment!

Jessica Peri from United States on February 05, 2013:

I used to love this game! I loved the roller coasters the most, followed by the water rides. Voted up!