This Fourth of July was extraspecial for one Florida family that got the surprise of a lifetime at Legoland.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Tom Cruz secretly worked with the Legoland Florida Resort for months to surprise members of his family by joining them at the park after returning early from a six-month deployment to the Middle East.
Cruz said he emailed Legoland on May 9 explaining his family's love of Legos and emphasizing his young son's love of pirates. Cruz wanted to see if there was any way he could use his family's upcoming trip to the theme park to arrange a surprise for them.
"He reached out in early May with the idea, and we pounced on it. We knew it had potential to be really moving," Legoland senior public relations manager David Brady told ABC News.
On Tuesday, Cruz's wife, Heather Cruz; daughter, Jaidyn, 12; and son, Holden, 4, enjoyed VIP treatment at the park, which they thought was part of a contest prize that a close family friend won. Part of the family's day included a private session with one of the master builders at the Lego model shop.
"They went above and beyond. They made us feel like we were the most important people in that park and made everything so special for us," Heather Cruz told ABC News.
Although the kids were enjoying it, they told their mother that they wished their father could be there too. Little did they know, he was behind the whole thing.
"We were saying how upsetting it was that Tom wouldn't be home for the Fourth," she added.
He chose to make his surprise entrance during a pirate-themed water-skiing show, Brady said.
Heather Cruz, Jaidyn and Holden were sitting front and center at the show with their friends when the host announced, "Look who it is to save the day — Tom Cruz!"
Heather Cruz said she thought it was a joke until she saw her husband run across the stage in his combat fatigues.
"My daughter looked up at me and smiled like, 'Mom, is that Dad? That's Dad! That's Dad!'" she said.
The family embraced onstage as the rest of the audience applauded. Heather Cruz said she was the most surprised of all.
"Tom is not the kind of guy that likes fanfare, so the fact that he did that and planned for months to surprise us is a really big deal," she said.
She added that they finished their big day by watching Legoland's fireworks show together.