(WINTER HAVEN, Fla.) -- This Fourth of July was extra special for one Florida family who got the surprise of a lifetime at Legoland on Tuesday.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Tom Cruz secretly worked with Legoland Florida Resort for months to surprise 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 emphasized 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 arrange an extra special 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, daughter Jaidyn, 12, and son Holden, 4, enjoyed VIP treatment at the park, which they thought was part of a contest their close family friend had 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.
But 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.
Their dad chose to make his surprise debut during a pirate-themed water skiing show, Brady said.
Heather, Jaidyn and Holden Cruz 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 on stage as the rest of the audience applauded. Cruz's wife 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.
The family finished their big day by watching Legoland's fireworks together, she added.
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