What is Popularity? Is it something I should thrive to improve? If so, how?

Note: While this is a Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 question, feel free to use RCT1 resources to answer if it has been proven by experience that the mechanics of Popularity are the same in both games.

  • @Nolonar There was no RCT2 tag when I created the question. It seems a charitable soul created it when editing my other, previous, question on RCT2 :)
    – leokhorn
    Jun 3, 2013 at 19:31
  • I see, in that case forget I said anything :p
    – Nolonar
    Jun 3, 2013 at 19:33
  • This FAQ defines Popularity as "Percentage of people who decide to ride a particular ride after thinking about it". If true, this means Popularity depends on guest behavior and not the other way around.
    – leokhorn
    Jun 4, 2013 at 8:37
  • @leokhorn If you think that your edit answers your question, make you edit an answer. If you included your extra information not to answer yourself, but to clarify your question (why am I seeing these results) add those why questions to your edit.
    – dlras2
    Jun 4, 2013 at 16:03
  • @DanRasmussen I think I'm answering my own question, so I'll make it an answer. Thanks.
    – leokhorn
    Jun 4, 2013 at 16:17

3 Answers 3


According to the manual (I know it is RCT1 but RCT2 manuals only includes expansions, neither of which discuss popularity, so until proven wrong I think it an acceptable assumption): ftp://ftp.atari.com/manuals/pc/rollercoaster_tycoon/rollercoaster_tycoon.pdf

Not only does the price influence how much money you make, it also
affects the popularity of the ride and, therefore, the attitudes of your guests

This suggests that your guests' attitude towards your ride (an consequently your park as a whole, known as "Park Rating") is directly related to price, through the popularity stat.

This means the more popular your ride, the more guests are willing to pay for it.

Also note that weather can play a factor in popularity.

Covered rides are more popular
when it’s raining.

One tip for keeping roller coasters popular

Roller coasters are very expensive, but provide good profit over a long period.
Price them high when new, then gradually decrease the admission over time to
keep the ride reasonably popular and profitable.

Similarly, you can make your concessions have popularity that you can improve as well.

Drink stands are more popular when placed near food stalls that sell
thirst-inducing products — salty things like popcorn, for example.

As far as where popularity comes from, that would be the Excitement rating (combined with the price you charge)

The excitement factor of each ride is rated on a scale from
0 (the epitome of tedium) to 10 (knocks your socks clean off). The higher
this number, the more you can successfully charge for admission to the
ride, and the more popular the ride will be with your guests. 
  • Great answer overall. Wasn't sure about salty food effects for example. Seems like the RCT1 manual goes more into the basics than the RCT2 one. Thanks for the link!
    – leokhorn
    Jun 4, 2013 at 8:39

I made some tests to try to understand Popularity beyond its basic definition which I will reproduce here: This FAQ defines Popularity as "Percentage of people who decide to ride a particular ride after thinking about it". If true, this means Popularity depends on guest behavior and not the other way around.

My test consisted of a simple park with various rides (some duplicated), a coaster and some shops.

What I noticed:

  • Popularity varies tremendously through time, often multiple times through a single month
  • Popularity is rarely indicative of how well a ride is doing: rides with little Satisfaction and near-empty queues may have high Popularity. Why? According to the definition and what I witnessed, because as long as the guests reaching the ride mostly decide to queue up, it will have high Popularity. It may still only have 10 guests per month.
  • Popularity of covered rides gets a boost when it rains. Makes sense: all guests from outdoor rides suddenly reroute there.
  • Popularity of 0 is the only significant warning I noticed. It means no one decides to queue up. In my test, this was always due to prices being too high (mostly because a ride was getting old and the initial price was not working anymore)
  • Popularity is expectedly low on low-intensity rides such as Merry-go-round, Haunted House and so on. Any ride guests skip for a reason inherent to the ride (ie. that can't be changed) are going to have low Popularity.
  • It seems a ride gets low Popularity when a queue is full, even if guests would like to get on it (I'm less sure on this one, may require more testing)

My current conclusion is that Popularity is indeed based on the formula GuestEnteringQueue / GuestAttemptingQueueEntry as a percentage, over a short period of time. If only 10 guests ever reach the queue and all decide to enter, you'd get a 100% Popularity.

As such, low Popularity mostly indicates an incompatibility between guests and the type of the ride. Extremely low Popularity seems either due to rain (for outdoor rides) or high prices. One is temporary, the other requires immediate attention.

I do not believe it is worth worrying over beyond the 0% case.


Here are some more concrete details from an analysis of the reverse-engineered Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 source code, provided and maintained by the OpenRCT2 project.

The basic rule is that when a peep visits a ride, the peep will decide either to enter the queue for the ride or not, based on a whole bunch of different criteria. Once 25 peeps have made that "go on the ride or not" decision, the game takes the number of peeps who decided to go on the ride, multiplies by 4, and that's the ride's new popularity percentage.

There are some surprising exceptions to this, though:

First, only peeps who are actually standing in front of the ride when they make the decision get counted. Peeps often make plans about where they're going and what they want to do next, and consider exactly the same set of things in deciding whether or not they want to travel to a particular ride as they do when deciding whether they want to get on, once they arrive. If they decide that they don't want to interact with the ride and so don't ever travel to it, they don't get counted in the popularity value at all, even though they decided that they didn't like the ride for some reason. They weren't standing at the ride when they made the decision, so they don't count, in terms of ride popularity.

Even more surprisingly, peeps who choose not to get on a ride because its intensity rating is too high for them don't get counted in the popularity value at all; they're simply ignored from the counting, and are treated as if they hadn't made a decision at all. (peeps who choose not to get on because its intensity rating is too low do get counted)

Additionally, peeps who are feeling nauseous from previous rides and who decide not to get on this ride because they're feeling unwell also are not counted. (peeps who feel fine and choose not to get on the ride because its nausea rating is too high are counted)

Finally, peeps who can't afford the price of the ride, or who are trying to leave the park, or who choose not to go on a ride because it doesn't have E/I/N ratings yet or because it's broken down or closed aren't counted.

In general, high popularity means that most peeps walking past the ride who are capable of getting on the ride have chosen to do so. Low popularity usually means that the price is too high, or the ride isn't intense enough, or its nausea rating is too high. (Alternately, it may be that the ride is still considered unsafe after an earlier accident, or that the ride isn't sheltered enough from the rain.)

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