The game is comprised of four worlds-Lost Kingdom, Halloween World, Wonderland, and Space Zone. Each zone starts out on a blank lot, where the player must construct his theme park from scratch. This includes placing various rides, shops, lavatories, decorative items, and the roads connecting these things to one another (all of which are themed to each area). Once the gates are opened, visitors begin arriving and will meander around the park to enjoy themselves. The objective is to maximize the amount of money your visitors pay during their stay, which is primarily achieved by keeping them as happy as possible for the duration.
The player has no control over the park's visitors, so the key is to lay the park out in a way that it would be easily navigable, making sure to put all the amenities within reach at all times, and generally drawing visitors towards the more expensive rides and shops. This is in part helped by an ant-like thing simply known in-game as "The Advisor" (but commonly referred to by fans as "Buzzy"), who serves as your guide and occasionally pops up to tell you when to construct additional pylons or whatever it is you need to do.
An important feature which was not present in the original Theme Park were Golden Keys and Golden Tickets; the latter were necessary to unlock the former, and the former unlocked new parks beyond Lost Kingdom and Halloween World. Golden Tickets were earned by completing benchmarks, such as making a lot of money, getting a lot of park attendance, having a lot of money, or having one of everything available in your park. These Golden Tickets could also be used to purchase special rides, which are huge draws for your park.
The PC version is currently unavailable digitally.
Tropes in the game include:
- Amusement Park: Well, of course.
- Big Boo's Haunt: This is the theme of Halloween World! Ride on the backs of giant plague rats, bounce on a brain-shaped bouncy house, and of course let us not forget the haunted house ride.
- Darkest Africa: The Lost Kingdom, full of jungle animals and tom tom drum-based rides.
- Exposition Fairy: Buzzy, who advises you on how your guests feel about your prices, if one of your rides is broken down, etc.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: In Lost Kingdom, not only there's plenty of dinosaurs but there is also a ride that allows guests to ride a freaking pterosaur.
- Green Hill Zone: Wonderland is built over a rolling grass field.
- Level Ate: Partially present in Wonderland, which includes a candy roller coaster and several candy scenery pieces.
- Macro Zone: The Wonderland theme park in Theme Park World, exploring the small world of wonderment beneath our very feet.
- Market-Based Title: The North American release of the PS2 version is titled "Theme Park Roller Coaster", while North American and Brazilian releases of the PC, Mac and PS1 versions are titled "Sim Theme Park". (Despite the game having been made with no involvement whatsoever from Maxis or Will Wright...)
- Mayincatec: In the (where else?) Lost Kingdom park, which name-drops Incan, Mayan, and Aztec culture.
- Prehistoria: Lost Kingdom, the world of ancient Africa slash South America slash the Middle East.
- Space Zone: It's actually called Space Zone. It's a world of aliens, high technology, and big orange spacesuits.
- Temple of Doom: One of the possible roller coasters you can construct in Lost Kingdom is themed around this.
- Variable Mix: As the parks get bigger, more instruments are added to the background music.
- WackyLand: Wonderland, the world of childlike wonder where logic takes a holiday.
- Zeerust: Largely present in the Space Zone. It's not exactly trying to be a realistic depiction of the far future.◊