Wild Americas - Part 1: The Entrance

This is the first installment in a series of posts touring my British zoo, named Wild Americas. You can read an introduction for it here.

Let's start things off at the entrance. I based the zoo in Carlisle, England because I know the area is pretty devoid of zoos in real-life. As Carlisle is quite urban in the city centre, I figured it would be realistic to build the zoo in the rural surroundings — Carlisle is very rural overall; it's technically the largest city in the UK on account of all the rural land around it. The rural location was also inspired by Tropical Butterfly House which is situated in the countryside of Sheffield. As with that zoo, you approach Wild Americas via a long driveway which leads into a car park. The car park features both regular and disabled car parking spaces, a bus stop and an isolated staff car park:

The entrance sits between the Tropical House (seen on the left) and the Cafe (seen on the right): 

Here's a frontal view of the entrance building. I was quite happy with how it turned out as I didn't use any references when building it. I made it using a green corrugated metal wall, which is commonly used at zoos across the world, including in the UK (you can see an example here). I used the same style for all the buildings to give the impression that they were all built around the same time. On the left, you can also see a sign I added for guest information, such as opening times, rules and contact information; you often see signs like these outside zoo entrances to give people useful information for when the zoo is closed:

This is the immediate view upon entry. I positioned the front desk at the centre of the room to act as a focal point, as that's where you'd buy tickets or ask for assistance. On the left, you can see the entrance to the Tropical House, whilst on the right, there's a door to the toilets; since it's a small zoo, I figured just one toilet block would suffice. Around the sides of the front desk are a variety of souvenirs, books and toys which comprise the Gift Shop. As in real-life, they're strategically located on the route to the exit:

A closer look at the front desk and part of the Gift Shop. I used a lot of bamboo in this area, as well as some tropical plants to try and convey a tropical theme. The right side of the Gift Shop features souvenirs and toys. As I don't use Workshop items and with little interest in making intricate items myself, I settled for random game props as stand-ins:

I added two computers, a filing cabinet and crude chip-and-pin devices to the front desk — all the essentials I thought were realistically needed for ticket sales. Sadly, it's all implied and has no actual game functionality (the "functional" ticket barrier is positioned at the entrance to the Tropical House). I got the vendor to stand behind the computer by placing down a path and then disconnecting it from the surrounding paths, which marooned him in place:

For lighting, I used a glass roof which spans the majority of the entrance area. In reality, it would also have the added benefit of providing heat due to the greenhouse effect. When night falls, there's a row of lights under the ridge to ensure the area remains lit:

This area also provides access to the Cafe:

The colour scheme for the Cafe was inspired by Tropical World but I put my own twist on it by adding some bamboo and tropical plants to fit with the tropical theme and to make the area consistent with the entrance. I also used artwork of South American animals to decorate the walls and fill in as much empty space as possible. Sadly, there were no matching wall decorations for North American animals, so only South American ones are represented:

The serving area for the bar has two functional food kiosks to serve actual food items to guests. Realistically, a cafe like this would definitely serve a wider variety of food, like this, but I had to settle for what was in the game. I did try to add the restaurant facility but the shape of it was just too awkward to work with:

I added as many tables to the dining area as I could fit, which turned out to be six. I think that's a realistic amount for such a small zoo. I could have supplemented them with a few smaller ones made from scenery items but they wouldn't be functional, so I didn't bother:

I added two floor to ceiling windows and a glass roof to provide lots of natural lighting. The row of windows pictured below also provide a view into the grounds of the zoo:

I hid the general waste and recycling bins underneath a counter to make them less of an eyesore. I also labeled them as an added detail and for realism. A recycling bin is a must as the zoo would probably want to show that it's eco-friendly:

Exiting the Gift Shop, directly opposite is the entrance to the Tropical House where we'll head next!