Iconic Gillian’s Wonderland Pier on the Ocean City Boardwalk is facing foreclosure. A judge has been ordered the property to be put up for Sheriff’s auction.
Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian and his wife own Gillian’s Wonderland Amusement Pier on the Ocean City Boardwalk. The couple has been foreclosed on for defaulting on 3 past loans totaling $8 million.
Mayor Gillian claims to have secured new financing and says the property will NOT go up for auction. Gillian expects to open his amusement park in late March of 2021.
Amusement pier owned by Mayor Jay Gillian’s family for close to 100 years.
Gillian says the COVID-19 pandemic caused the financial problems.
Michele Gillian, Jay’s wife, is the Executive Director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce.
Wonderland amusement pier on the Ocean City Boardwalk has been operated by the Gillian family since 1929.
Wonderland Pier will be open for business, as usual, for 2021 season.Mayor Jay Gillian.
Gillian owes $8 million to First Priority Bank. Judge Michael Blee ordered that the property be put up for auction.
History of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City
Gillian’s is a historic amusement park founded in 1929 by David Gillian, who first came to Ocean City in 1914.
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 Carousel.
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 Giant Wheel, one of the largest Ferris wheels on the east coast.