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 their theme park from scratch. This includes placing various rides, shops, lavatories, decorative items, and the paths 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:
- Anachronism Stew: Lost Kingdom combines prehistoric features like dinosaurs with Central and South American indigenous imagery. It's a bit more understandable in the context of the Indiana Jones theme the park is shooting for.
- 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 is a little insectoid guy advises you on how your guests feel about your prices, if one of your rides is broken down, etc.
- Green Hill Zone: Wonderland is built over a rolling grass field.
- Go to the Euphemism: If the Park doesn’t have enough bathrooms, The Advisor will vaguely refer to the features building category, before then trying to hint the player to what he means by using the “Powder my nose” and “Take a load off” euphemisms.
- Guide Dang It!:
- While rides breaking down is funny, the game doesn't really mention that you aren't supposed to let that happen: you're meant to task a Mechanic to do a checkup before they get to that point. Mechanics will fix broken rides automatically, but they have to be ordered to fix non-broken ones manually, which the game doesn't really go into (though, to be fair, it does warn you when a breakdown is about to happen via both a message and an Advisor popup, giving you a chance to send a mechanic over before its too late if you can act fast enough). If a ride breaks down too many times, it'll get "Condemned", leaving you with no choice but to tear it down.
- Making Loop de Loops for Roller Coasters is also somewhat difficult to figure out. First off, you have to research and perform a Level 2 Ride Upgrade on the Coaster you want to add a loop to before you can even unlock the option. Once you do, the Exposition Fairy will explain it to you once you find the right button... but said button is invisible on some systems. (Which could be a bug)
- Horse of a Different Color: In Lost Kingdom, not only there's plenty of dinosaurs but there is also a ride that allows guests to ride a freaking pterosaur.
- 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.
- Missing Secret: In the PC version, you can unlock all the parks with five Golden Keys. Once you've done that, you will never need any more Golden Keys ever again. However, you can still earn four more for a total of nine, for no apparent reason.
- Next Sunday A.D.: Released in 1999, starts in 2000.
- Prehistoria: Lost Kingdom, the world of ancient Africa slash South America slash the Middle East.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy:
- If your balloons are selling well, the advisor will tell you they're "selling like hotcakes". Then he'll get distracted by the fact that hotcakes typically sell in stacks, and decide your balloons are selling more like grapes.
- Another occasional variant of this message has the advisor telling you that visitors are buying "tons" of balloons, before noting that balloons don't weigh a ton at all. He corrects himself by saying they're buying a "whole lot" of them.
- Space Zone: It's actually called Space Zone. It's a world of aliens, high technology, and big orange spacesuits.
- Sprite/Polygon Mix: The rides and scenery are full 3D, while the visitors and staff are 2D sprites. In addition to providing a distinct look, the combo helps the game maintain a playable framerate.
- Temple of Doom: One of the possible roller coasters you can construct in Lost Kingdom is themed around this.
- Variable Mix: As your parks attract more guests in the PC version, more instruments and melodies are added to the background music.
- Verbal Backspace: When a ride breaks down, the Advisor will warn you of a "a little problem with one of the rides"... and upon the sound of exploding machinery, amend that to "a somewhat larger problem".
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can charge people to use the bathrooms. If that's not enough, you can put a lot of salt on the fries and ice in the drinks.
- WackyLand: Wonderland, the world of childlike wonder where logic takes a holiday.