Published: 06:00, 19 January 2021
| Updated: 14:44, 19 January 2021
But over the years the county has boasted some very fine destinations which pulled in crowds from across the South East - havens of happy childhood memories often forgotten after they closed their doors for good – many several decades ago.
We take a look back at some of the venues which once entertained us before they eventually fizzled out.
If you were a youngster living in Kent during the 1980s or very early 1990s, you will remember Fantaseas in Dartford - if not by experience then at least by reputation.
A sprawling complex of water slides, wave machines and lazy rivers, it was a must for those with a penchant for water larks and little concern if the entry price also came with some minor injuries or a near-death experience or two.
In short, for the fearless youngster it was a must-visit attraction.
Open every day from 10.30am to 10.30pm (the posters advertising the attraction made a point of saying you could spend all 12 hours there if you so desired - although one assumes you would emerge looking like a prune), it was billed as 'Britain's first indoor water park' and came complete with free parking for up to 400 cars at a site overlooking the Dartford Crossing.
Its star attraction was the Black Hole - a pitch black, near vertical, drop through a tube into a pool below and certainly not for the faint of heart. Even the lazy river ride was something of an experience as you boarded your rubber ring and made your way down from one swirling pool to the next with the occasional dip under the water with fear of not being able to resurface keeping you on your toes.
Was it fun? Yes, tremendously. Would it pass today's strict and health safety rules? Probably not but it was of its time and its closure in 1992 was a blow to many.
It shut up shop due to a combination of a dip in numbers outside of weekends and school holidays as well as the added cost of subsidence at the site causing it additional problems.
Dickens World, Chatham
On reflection, opening a theme park based around a Victorian author and expecting to engage with that all important young audience was always probably going to be something of a stretch. But that didn't stop the long-held plans to create, build and open Dickens World at Chatham Dockside.
Originally imagined decades before hand, it had planned to open in London, but property prices meant a cheaper location was needed. And where better than Medway where the author spent time as a child and then saw out the last years of his life at his home in Higham, just a few miles down the road? Apparently, at one stage, those behind the £60m extravaganza were considering a site in Ashford. I suppose they could have claimed Dickens travelled through that town on a train once or twice.
And lo, set within a building the size of several football pitches, the creations of the legendary scribe were brought to life via a, ahem, Great Expectations-themed log flume, which, at the time it opened in 2007 was said to be the longest of its kind in Europe. One imagines a metre-long ride would be the longest Dickens-inspired log flume, but who are we to argue?
Those on the ride had the thrills and spills of travelling through a re-creation of a Victorian sewer - complete with those all-important authentic smells - and a graveyard before plunging into the Thames. What is there not to like about that?
In addition, visitors could watch a film about the author, presented in 4D (complete with a spray of water at key moments), visit a haunted house and experience what life was like in a Victorian classroom. One assumes without the savage beatings from the actors dressed up as the teachers.
As a seaside resort in years gone by, Margate was, in many ways, beyond compare. Its proximity to London saw regular big crowds and its broad sandy beach and classic promenade made it a hugely popular destination before cheap foreign holidays came along and rather spoilt it.
Crucially, because of its popularity, it was able to invest in attractions which helped oil its economic wheels. Dreamland being a prime example of a theme park which was developed to become one of the most thrilling in the South East (see below for more on that).
Another example was the Dolphinarium at the Queen's Highcliffe hotel in Cliftonville.
Previously one of a number owned by then holiday giant Butlins, the hotel came complete with a swimming pool with panels to allow people to watch the swimmers from below in a bar area. It's probably not the sort of thing we'd have now for a variety of reasons.
Sold in the late 1960s, its new owners re-purposed the pool. And put dolphins - and for that matter sea lions - in it.
As part of Margate's summer show season, spectators would pay to watch the creatures perform.
And in the winter, they would tour the country - performing in, you guessed it, public swimming pools around the UK with the water salted to the same density of seawater.
But as the sun started to set on Margate's hey-day, so did the demand for the dolphins. And by the late 1970s the dolphinarium closed.
Canterbury Tales, Canterbury
Sadly, a new addition to the list, it's possible amid all the doom and gloom which stalked much of 2020 you may have missed the demise of what was once one of Canterbury's most popular attractions.
Devoted to bringing to life Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the attraction itself didn't try and be the all-singing, all-dancing affair which those behind Dickens World attempted. But it proved a popular place for tourists and parties of school children as their desperate teachers used it help those struggling to study the text for GCSEs and A-levels. Its proximity to the cathedral making it an easy-stop off point for visitors. It even featured in an episode of The Apprentice in 2014 as the hapless Alan Sugar wannabes visited the city.
An interactive tour through Chaucer's much-loved tales in which visitors walked the authentically-scented streets meeting both waxworks and costumed characters along the way, the emergence of a bare waxwork backside out of a top floor window during the Miller's Tale tended to be the highlight for anyone under the age of 16.
But after entertaining young and old alike for 35 years, last April it abruptly announced it would not be re-opening after the first lockdown. It is thought the loss of trade due to the enforced closure and the prospect of a huge drop in tourist numbers over the following months were behind the decision.
If there is one defunct tourist attraction in the county which triggers the most fond memories for those who visited it, then it is surely the long since deceased Maidstone Zoo.
The park, sited initially in Tovil in 1914, had to put its plans on hold when the First World War erupted, and by the time owner Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake reopened it in 1934, it was on his family estate at Cobtree, near Sandling.
Being set some distance from the road, those visiting the venue would catch a miniature railway which would ferry them to the main attractions.
Granted, the animals experienced more of a Tiger King lifestyle than the palatial surroundings of the likes of Port Lympne or Howletts, but boy was it popular.
There were lions and tigers and you could even take a ride on an elephant. Other animals included chimpanzees, kangaroos, wolves, reptiles and bears.
In 1946 even the Queen - well, Princess Elizabeth as she was known then - paid a visit.
It closed its doors for the final time in 1959 due to rising costs and Sir Garrard's deteriorating health - he died five years later.
Dreamland, Margate (original incarnation)
Now, granted, Dreamland has been revived and, enforced closures due to the pandemic not withstanding, continues to be a major pull for fun-seekers. But, before it was reimagined, many will remember its hey-day during the 1960s, 70s and into the 80s - at which point a change in ownership saw it become briefly Bembom Brothers.
It's hard to conjure up the excitement this place could once generate in the days before the likes of Alton Towers and Thorpe Park started to up their game and stole its thunder.
Certainly during its Bembom era it was a palace of dreams for young and old alike with its rides defining the skyline (not to mention, of course, being immortalised in the classic Only Fools and Horses Christmas special, the Jolly Boys' Outing).
There was the Looping Star rollercoaster which, as the name suggests, did a full 360-degree loop, the legendary Mary Rose ship which swung its customers up and over - normally with a shower of coins slipping out of pockets as it completed a full loop, while the Apollo Moon ride made the place look a little more Florida than Thanet.
By the time you'd added in classics like the log flume, the still-there Scenic Railway and the Enterprise - which re-emerged when the park reopened - and Margate's theme park really was a must-visit.
Plus, visitors heading from the car park to the entrance gates were met with colourful stalls selling all sorts of classic beach paraphernalia.
As Margate's appeal declined, so did the visitor numbers, and despite a return to its original Dreamland moniker in the 1990s it became a shadow of its former self. By the mid-2000s it closed before, in 2015, it was reopened under new management.