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Gillian's Wonderland Pier, Ocean City

(3.7/5 based on 300+ reviews on the web)
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 144ft 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.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Everytime the grandkids come down the shore, we have to go to Wonderland. Be sure to buy tickets during Easter sale. 
  • This is a great place to take the kids for some fun, day or night. Be ready for some large crowds during peak season. 
  • Gillian's Wonderland holds many great memories. This was our summer go to when our kids were between 2-12. A few rides for the older kids but this is really aimed at young families. A safe contained e...  more »
Google
  • The giant ferris wheel (you can see it from miles away) is a must-ride. Bring your sweatshirt because it windy at the top even on a warmer evening. The kiddie rides are reasonably priced and our toddler loved it all.
  • I think the rides themselves are very fine and our kids love this place. If it was up to me only I would give it 3 stars only because it is so expensive. Last time we went though, a Monday, they had a special (something like unlimited rides until 6pm for $50) which I would recommend doing and go to the beach after that. Besides that, either you can afford it or you are going to have to tell your kids the fun is over after 3-4 rides.
  • I've been coming here for a week almost every summer since 1978 since my parents first brought me as a baby. My sister now brings her kids here every year. I rated 3 stars preliminarily because of the situation described below. Here is the message I sent to Gillian's, & I will update my review when I get a reply from them (or if I don't get a reply in a few weeks). To Gillian's Wonderland: "Around 7:58pm on Sunday Aug 7th, my nephew rode the Raceway Whip. He kept telling the attendant he was scared and wanted her to stop the ride (I have video). She looked right at him every time he went by her, but she did nothing. I don't know if this is your policy to not stop the rides, or if it was just the ride operator being lazy or not sympathetic. Either way, that was not something I'd expect from a place that is geared towards children. What do you have to say about that?"
  • Great for kids and the lines are usually short. Decent selection of rides in the small space. Biggest negative is the prices. A 2 minute carousel ride is about 4 tickets (tickets are $1 unless you buy in bulk, 100 tickets are about $75).
  • Nice place to take children. Prices aren't too bad. Ferris wheel has great views.