Published: 06:00, 24 June 2020
| Updated: 08:42, 24 June 2020
For years, Kent has provided many a happy place for thrillseekers when it comes to a good theme park.
As well as the travelling and pop-up fares, the county has been home - and still is - to several amusement parks, including Dreamland, the Rotunda and Diggerland. News that work is finally starting on the derelict Pleasurama site in Ramsgate prompted us to dig through our archive.
Here, we take a look back at their history and what they had to offer, whether it was for a family day out or a high adrenaline rush.
Kent may have lost a few funfairs over the years...but there is still fun to be had.
Diggerland, Medway - still open:
Diggerland Kent opened in April 2000 and the park was a success with over 20,000 visitors passing through its gates in the first year.
The idea for the fun park came from Hugh Edeleanu, chairman of H. E. Services, the largest supplier of digging construction machinery for hire in Europe.
During an open day at one of the sites, Mr Edeleanu noticed how much the children were fascinated by all the machinery and by just sitting in the cabs of diggers.
And born was the idea of Diggerland.
There are now four parks in the UK - in Kent, Devon, Durham and Yorkshire - and one in America.
In 2003, Diggerland in Kent moved to a new location in Strood, which is a former industrial site, and has the capacity for 2,000 visitors a day.
Attractions at the park include Skyshuttle, Mini Landrovers, Giant Giggers, Mini Tractors, Go Karts plus a safari and indoor play area.
Diggerland is currently closed due to Covid-19, but is aiming for a July re-opening.
Dreamland, Margate - still open:
Over the years, the well-known site in Margate has hosted a zoo, miniature railway, First World War troops, big bands like the The Who and the Rolling Stones, and many, many rides.
It was first known as Dreamland in 1920 when its new owner John Iles transformed it into a pleasure garden and amusement park.
That same year the iconic Scenic Railway opened and within its first 12 months of operation the wooden ride carried half a million passengers on its mile-long tracks.
It is now the oldest rollercoaster in the UK and became Grade II listed in 2002. It suffered fires in 1949, 1957, and in 2008, when a suspected arson attack destroyed almost half of the structure.
Over the early part of the 20th century, Dreamland thrived as a popular visitor attraction and music venue with Margate remaining a hugely popular vacation spot for Londoners.
In 1981 the site was sold to the Dutch Bembom brothers, who renamed it "Bembom Brothers White Knuckle Theme Park".
It reverted to Dreamland in 1990, when it was taken over by the late Jimmy Godden.
But by the early 2000s its popularity had declined with many rides being sold off to other amusement parks.
It was announced in 2003 that Dreamland would close and the site redeveloped, although the listing of the Scenic Railway meant it could not be moved.
The site was sold to Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company in 2005, who proposed a residential redevelopment - prompting a 'Save Dreamland' campaign.
Thanet District Council compulsorily-purchased the site in September 2013 and work began to restore the iconic Scenic Railway and the park.
It re-opened in 2015 and in its first year of reopening more than 300,000 people visited and 40 bands performed.
Despite the big numbers, the park entered into administration in 2016.
Following significant additional investment, the amusement park was re-launched and expanded once again in 2017.
And in 2019 saw its highest visitors numbers - 700,000 - since its re-opening.
The park is currently closed until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Dymchurch Amusement Park- still open:
Located right on the beach in Dymchurch, on Romney Marsh, this family fun park has been running for more than two decades.
Rides include Mickey’s Runaway, Rocket Revenge, Ghost Train, the Dymchurch Dodgem, Snake Slide, Crooked House, Log Flume, Circus Carousel and the Ferris Wheel.
Also on-site are two amusement arcades, as well as a café with an indoor soft-ball play area and a snack bar.
The attraction has been owned by the Woolls family for 23 years.
In 2018, they spent £500,000 on a new ride, dubbed the Family Coaster.
The park is open every year from March until October.
In 2019, the site appeared in band New Hope Club's Love Again music video.
In the video, the band are seen breaking into the fun park before riding the dodgems, merry-go-round and swings.
The park is currently closed due to the coronavirus but is aiming to open again from July 4.
Folkestone Rotunda - closed 2003:
The Rotunda on Folkestone seafront was a popular and bustling mini theme park complete with rollercoasters, dodgems, a helter skelter, arcades, crazy golf and a log flume.
Popular rides included Castle Dracula, the Magic Mouse and the Runaway Coaster, which dated to 1922 but was installed at the Rotunda in 1998.
Its landmark building - The Dome - was built in 1936 by Folkestone firm Jenner and for 40 years was the largest unsupported concrete Dome in Europe.
The site had once included a large boating lake - which was opened in 1937 - and a 50m open-air swimming pool, built a year later, with the rides being added in the following years.
While unable to match Dreamland for wider appeal, the Rotunda was a site which pulled in huge crowds and which would eventually host the popular Sunday market too.
A second, additional dome building was also built, with children's soft play and cafes on site.
It was not without controversy; in 1999 eight year old Erin Griffin fell from the mini dragon ride and sadly died.
Owners Dreamland Leisure Ltd were fined for breaching health and safety laws.
In another incident a carpenter who was working on a ride fell and broke his leg.
And it all came to an end in 2003, when the owner, the late Jimmy Godden, decided to sell the site.
The Rotunda had once been part of Mr Godden’s seaside entertainment empire, which also included the aforementioned Dreamland and Ramsgate's Pleasurama
He said at the time: "People don't want to come to the seaside any more for rides. We can't look backwards. The building was decaying and past its sell by date."
Demolition work saw most buildings gone by 2007, the same year an auction was held to get rid of all the left over equipment and memorabilia.
Pleasurama, Ramsgate - closed 1998:
In 1926, a section of railway line between Broadstairs and Ramsgate Harbour including a tunnel to the seafront at Ramsgate was abandoned.
Following this, the land was sold to the Ramsgate Corporation who leased the prime spot to be used for 'leisure'.
The site, next to the sunny beach, underwent a transformation and for decades was a popular funfair, known as Merrie England and also Pleasurama.
Over the years rides at the beloved site included a helter skelter, Waltzers, House of Fun, Ghost Train, carousel, Ferris wheel and fairground games including fish for a duck.
The seafront site was also home to a bathing pool, zoo, mini golf, bars - including Long Bar -, amusement arcades, a bingo hall and restaurants.
With the introduction of cheap abroad holidays, its popularity declined.
And in May 1998 Pleasurama was destroyed by a fire, and soon after everything was demolished.
More by this authorSam Williams