Class of 2023 Grad Night at Universal ends with bus fiasco



Grad Night display on the exiting arches of the park.

Madeline Marshall, Editor-in-Chief

Buena senior class of 2023 traveled to Universal Studios June 3 for Grad Night for a night of fun, comradery, and celebration. The late night experience included six hours, 4pm-12am, of open exploration of the park where students across VUSD and Southern California went to Harry Potter World, the famous Backlot Tour, the new Super Mario World, and, for some, a much longer wait to get a ride home.

Students from across VUSD arrived at Buena in the front bus lot at 2 pm, but Buena students were the first to board buses one, two, and three. The strict schedule followed by boarding at 2:30 and departure at 3:00. 

As explained at the Mandatory meeting May 31 during lunch, administrators leading the trip explained they would use the boarding period to search students and possibly use breathalyzers to check students for alcohol consumption.

Buses set departure around 3:30, and due to heavy Los Angeles traffic, the buses arrived around 5 pm. Students exited and were met at the entrance after another security check, and were handed their tickets if admittance. 

“I was looking forward to seeing Mario,” senior Nathan Tauber said. “That was definitely at the top of my list.”

The park was busy, considering it was open to the public for the first few hours of grad night. However, as soon as the public left, lines were slightly shorter, but wait times still hovered at  one hour.

“I think it was pretty roughly run, not well managed,” Tauber said.

Students already paid close to $300 for admittance to grad night, then also had to pay for any food they wanted and were recommended to bring at least $25 for food. 

Students then had to meet at the front of the park at 12:45 am in order to get organized to return to the buses, but students from Buena, unlike the other VUSD schools, had a much longer experience in getting home.

This year, a new problem faced the buses. Two scheduled buses did not show up to pick up students, leaving over 50 students without a ride. It turned out to be due to the buses going to Disneyland rather than Universal. 

“I was really tired, I felt really drained at some point and I was very frustrated at the turn of events,” Tauber said.

Originally students were asked to call their parents to come pick them up, meaning to drive over an hour and back at 2am. But then students were asked instead to wait as they were told another bus would arrive in 30-40 minutes.

“This entire trip was coordinated at a District level. Site-level admin and ASB advisors did help, but it was not a Buena-only trip,” assistant principal Natalia Dyer said. “That being said, the mistake was 100% on the part of the travel company.”

Students who were left at Universal boarded the buses around 3am and arrived around 5am as opposed to the students who left first and arrived at 3am.

“The District has been working with the travel company to resolve this issue, including requesting a refund for a portion of the bus costs for the impacted students,” Dyer said.