Gillians is a historic amusement park founded in 1929 by David Gillian, who first came to Ocean City in 1914. It is located on the ocean boardwalk of the New Jersey shore.
David started his career in the orchestra at C. Elwood Carpenter's Dance Club (aka The Casino), located over the Moorlyn Theater on the old Boardwalk. In 1917 he transferred to the Hippodrome pier, where he played with Robin Robinson's Orchestra. The Hippodrome had a movie theatre, vaudeville, dancing and amusements for children.
In October 1927, a fire destroyed the Hippodrome, after which the burned boardwalk was replaced in 1928. In 1930 David Gillian opened a Fun Deck at Plymouth Place and the Boardwalk. The two main attractions were a Ferris wheel and a Merry-Go-Round.
In honor of his 100th birthday in 1990, David Gillian donated a horse from the Merry-Go-Round to the Ocean City Historical Museum. David Gillian died in March 1993 at the age of 102.
In 1957, David Gillian retired and his sons, Bob and Roy took over from 1957-1977. In 1965 Roy left the family business and started Wonderland Pier at 6th Street and the Boardwalk (where Stainton's Playland had burned down 10 years prior), with 10 rides and a parking lot.
Roy became mayor of Ocean City in 1985, and retired from politics in 1989. In 1994, Roy became the president of IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions). His son, Jay Gillian, became mayor of Ocean City in 2010.
The Gillian family decided to expand their business beyond Ocean City by opening Gillian's Funland of Sea Isle City. Located on JFK Blvd.
Gillian's Wonderland Pier is mostly famous for its 144-foot (44 m) Giant Wheel, one of the largest Ferris wheels on the east coast.
In 2009, Gillian's Wonderland Pier celebrated 80 years on the Ocean City, New Jersey Boardwalk.