The game was originally planned as a sequel to Transport Tycoon in 1996, but when the sequel was abandoned the code was changed to handle roller coasters, instead of transport vehicles.
The game was originally named "White Knuckle" throughout development, even when Hasbro Interactive became involved, but when Hasbro bought Microprose, the opportunity for a "Tycoon" connection was just too good to miss, so the game became "RollerCoaster Tycoon".
The UK theme park, Alton Towers, was going to use some of the music from the game in their park, primarily several of the 'theme' pieces from the game for their Swan Boats ride, but the project was ultimately cancelled.
On the back of the game's US box, developer Chris Sawyer can be seen riding a real roller coaster. The Oakwood Leisure Park in Wales (UK) allowed the developers to ride their wooden roller coaster, Megafobia, while the park was closed during winter. These photos were then used for publicity for the game, as well as to create the game's box art.