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Amusement Parks: Gillian’s Wonderland Pier – a Potted History

Delgrosso’s Amusement Park / Conneaut Lake Park / Jenkinson’s Broadwalk / Steel Pier 

Gillian’s Wonderland Pier is an amusement park located in Ocean City, New Jersey.

It is an amusement park that represents almost a century in the lives of the Gillian family when David Gillian first arrived in Ocean City back in 1914. He played drums in an orchestra at a dance club on the old boardwalk and subsequently in the Hippodrome on the Ocean City Pier but a fire which destroyed the pier, including the Hippodrome, in 1927 was to change the course of his life.

Three years after, after the boardwalk was replaced, David Gillian decided to open a Fun Deck where the main attractions were a Merry-Go Round and Ferris Wheel but it would be the best part of a quarter of a century until his sons, Robert and Roy, would take the amusement park on to another level. In 1965, Roy decided to quit the family business and open up his own amusement park on the Boardwalk on a site which had been occupied by Stainton’s Playland which had burned down a decade earlier. He called the new amusement park ‘Wonderland Pier’ which featured 10 rides.

Today, the amusement park is now run by the third generations of Gillian’s – Roy’s children – and it has seen many changes over the years. There’s the Giant Wheel at the amusement park which, at 141 feet, has become an Ocean City landmark. The amusement park has also been expanded to incorporate Gillian’s Island Waterpark and Adventure Golf. Little Buc’s Bay is a water playground at the amusement park of almost 19, 000 square feet, just for kids and other favourite rides at the amusement park include the Canyon Falls Log Flume, the Shotgun Falls and the Skypond Journey Tube Slide. In fact, between all the different Gillian’s piers at the amusement park, there are around 40 rides and attractions and 10 waterslides as well as the award winning Adventure Golf Course to enjoy.

The Gillian family and future generations continue to strive to provide great family entertainment for years to come at the amusement park. They owe a lot of gratitude for the success of the amusement park to David Gillian who continued to offer encouragement and enthusiasm right up until his death in 1993, aged 102. In fact, it seems very fitting that David lived long enough to donate a horse from his original merry-go-round in celebration of his 100th birthday in 1990 to the Historical Museum in Ocean City where it proudly resides today.

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