Planet Coaster [official site] is, by many accounts, the greatest theme park sim ever. But if you don't have the architectural vision of Gaudi (who never actually designed a theme park, but really should've), or if - like me - you tell yourself that you could build the next Disney World but just don't have the time, then Planet Coaster can feel a bit intimidating. I get creative paralysis when I have nothing but a plain green field to 'Build Something Beautiful' on, and develop an inferiority complex when in the campaign I see how great the pre-built bits of park look next to my comparatively bland creations.
So I've left it to the lively Planet Coaster creators' community to get on with the creative malarkey, while I sit in my cigar-stenched park office - summer sun trickling between the venetian blinds, the sound of kids' laughter muffled by the triple-glazed windows - and search for the creations that'll pull the punters in through the gates of my park. Here's a bunch of my favourite community-made rides, rollercoasters, and other tidbits that I found while perusing the Steam Workshop.
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Star Wars stuff
I only watched the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time last year. I liked it, largely for the fact that these three movies account for about 10% of all pop culture in the world, making them quite possibly the best value-for-culture you can get in seven or so hours.
For example, I now know what a Death Star is, and how unspeakably awesome it must be for Star Wars fans to see it in roller coaster form. Even if you’re not a fan of the movies, you’ve got to admire the design of this formidable rollerball of a ride.
If that's not enough to satiate you Star Warriors (that’s what you call yourselves, right?), then its creator MuFuTee has also created several other spaceships and bits & bobs from the far-flung galaxy.
Oh, and this mountain sculpted into a giant Yoda with a roller coaster shooting out of his palm made me smile.
Aside from when I wistfully watch videos of the now-abandoned American Adventure Theme Park I used to frequent as a kid (in hindsight it probably wasn't very good), I don't usually get moved to tears by theme parks. But throw in some majestic fantasy music with a park that appears to have been plucked from Cinderella's childhood dreams - prior to her becoming a mutilated vengeful harpy as per the Brothers Grimm tale - and something in my soul stirs.
All the Fast Food Greats
If you were swept away to a faraway place by the Story Land trailer, then this entry may be a bit of a jarring return to our neocapitalist world. But whatever - fast food brands rule the world and plonking some of the most famous ones into my park infuses it with a weirdly comforting sense of realism (which is probably a sign that I’m a brainwashed big-brand puppet).
Taitjames has created sleek, accurate takes on 14 of the most recognisable food brands in the world - including McDonald's (modern and traditional variants), 7-Eleven, Domino's and the 'healthy option', Subway. These places are actual food outlets in-game rather than just props, though I still find it uncanny that park visitors can't actually sit down with their food, and are consigned to eat-walking while being conveyor-belted around your park; little wonder that chronic vomit outbreaks are an issue in Planet Coaster when no one’s allowed to sit and let their food settle properly...
The Disused Distillery
I love the level of detail on this ride, which would be a great fit for a western-themed park (or, better still, a park set amidst the haunted derelict remains of Old West boomtowns - can someone make that please?). The coaster is large but compact, elegantly weaving in on itself before going indoors through a warehouse of honey-coloured smoke and big metal whiskey casks. It lights up nicely at night too!
Mars Colony Starter Park
The perfect remedy for those who get all agoraphobic at the prospect of building a theme park on a vast, plain expanse of land. I enjoy working within a framework like this and seeing what I can cram into it. And what better way of thematising this than by building a Mars Colony filled with domes that ostensibly protect your eyes from popping out of your skull like a la Total Recall Arnie.
The park is the work of SpecterCody, and you can download all its domes, facilities, and other contraptions individually from their Steam Workshop page. Hellish wasteland that it is, Mars is a surprisingly popular theme in Planet Coaster, and you should check out the Martian Workshop creations of Radek Walachnia and Scila if you wan tmore props for your interplanetary park.
Alien City Park
The neon-soaked cityscapes of YouTube channel FU_Films were created during earlier builds of Planet Coaster. Sadly, the creator said that the save files got buggy after one of the updates, so it's up in the air whether we'll see them come to the Steam Workshop (see JUST ABOVE; now available).
But that doesn't stop the above video being a joy to watch. The driving techno soundtrack was also made by FU_Films, and syncs perfectly with every sweeping turn and drop of this coaster - which looks like some glorious fusion between Thumper and Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void.
Also, it makes a strong case for Frontier Developments to add VR support to the game, don'tcha think?
Evergreen Gardens from Rollercoaster Tycoon
I miss the convenient isometric grids of Rollercoaster Tycoon. You always knew where you stood with a square to build on, and could easily measure up your coasters to make sure that the end connected back to the starting platform, and that they actually made Euclidean sense unlike some of the monstrosities I’ve created in Planet Coaster.
Evergreen Gardens brings back some of that design accessibility, as it’s a direct recreation of the famous map from the original Rollercoaster Tycoon. Creator Aleema also made Dynamite Dunes and Bumbly Beach from RCT 1, though Evergreen Gardens is by far my favourite space of the lot - a neat, verdant mix of nature and straight pathways that turn at nice right-angles (without any of that curvey-wurvey free-flowing nonsense of Planet Coaster).
Back to the Future
“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads, Marty!” Doc Brown’s timeless words ring truer than ever in Planet Coaster, where only footpaths are required. It'd take a person with a heart of stone and soul of smog not to feel at least some fondness for the Back to the Future trilogy, and Steam smithy ZapWizard has taken it upon himself to realise its most iconic landmarks.
At the time of writing, ZapWizard had recreated the entire Hill Valley town square in 1955, and done various bits and pieces from wild western Back to the Future III. He said he’s currently working on recreating the entire town square from 1885 Hill Valley, and also wants to do the town hall from the series’ (somewhat optimistic) vision of 2015. All we need now is a Delorean, and a full multi-era BttF-themed park is in reach.
Tiered Theme Park
Simple in concept but a still sight to behold, this wonderland is an accomplishment on many levels (sorry), wrapping itself around an impossibly convenient multi-layered mountain. Obviously, it'd be a nightmare to hike around without a chairlift, but if those people living in that city in Return of the King managed it, then why shouldn't the happy-go-lucky revellers of Planet Coaster? Let them suffer a bit for their fun...
Giant statues for giant statues' sake
I'm not sure about the practical applications of creating an unthinkably large robot, serpent or Bowser (build a roller coaster round them, I suppose), but the craft that's gone into these things is a testament to Planet Coaster’s Felix-the-Catian toolbox. Remember that none of this stuff is imported - it’s all made using the modelling tools and objects in-game, and requires a real knack at improvisation (the snake’s pupils, for example, are partly obscured ‘Chief Beef’ burgers)
The best of the rest
El Escoces Gamer made some great stuff in the earlier builds of Planet Coaster (check out his YouTube channel for some impressive Gothic-inspired buildings and haunted houses), and he's just started bringing his talent to the full version. His Tokyo-inspired Sci-Fi Shopping Center and Old Westy train station are particularly good. He also said he plans on bringing some of his work from the alpha version into the main build, so stay tuned to see what he comes up with next.
Xtraordinar has an eclectic mix of theme-parky appurtenances; I especially like his Bumper Car rink (which isn’t actually usable, though guests at least walk through and interact with it because it’s technically a toilet). Better still is the Carnival attraction, embellished with brilliant details like 'Dancing Piglets' and a caged dragon. The signage on the outside promising Siamese Twins has a slightly uncomfortable air of 'Victorian Freakshow' about it, but thankfully there are no such things in sight (perhaps they keep them in the tents). Also, it’s nice to see that the live comedy show is performed by Louis CK…
And call me a sucker for steampunk 101, but I can never not love an old-timey galleon flying by means of hot air balloons.