There he was, just like any other dad, splashing around at the Blizzard Beach water park with a giggling 6-year-old. Except he was Tom Cruise, with his daughter Suri. For other vacationers at Walt Disney World on July 31, it was an indelible vacation memory. “There was a collective gasp when people saw him take his shirt off,” says an onlooker. But the star, 50, only had eyes for his little girl, happily tossing her in the air and playing tag. And so for five straight days at five Disney parks, from the Toy Story Mania! ride to the animal safari to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Cruise treated his daughter to a fairy-tale week. Suri “was having the time of her life,” says visitor Marianne Cohen, who spotted her on July 30 in a sparkly Ariel costume. “She was beaming and chattering up a storm to Tom. He was just enjoying the moment.”
As Cruise and Katie Holmes, 33, move on in the wake of Holmes’s surprise divorce filing on June 28, the exes have worked out a “civilized routine,” says a source, with Suri’s happiness taking top priority. Cruise and Holmes “are talking, and they’re both going to do what’s best for Suri.” Contrary to reports, the pair haven’t clashed over Scientology. And while staffers have helped hand off Suri from one parent to the other, the pair have seen each other; Holmes herself greeted Cruise when he dropped Suri back at home Aug. 5.
Not that their parental styles don’t diverge. To escape photographers, Cruise whisked Suri via helicopter to the Hamptons estate of his pal Terry Semel and later took her to Disney World, where she found playmates her age. “They hung out with families they met at the pool who had kids Suri befriended,” says a source. At a suite inside Cinderella’s Castle, the pair went to bed each night watching the Olympics. Meanwhile, Holmes, who has primary custody of Suri, has been hopping cabs to art and gymnastics lessons and destinations such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Bronx Zoo and the French bistro Pastis. (They flew commercial to visit Katie’s parents in Ohio.) “She’s looking forward to a rich life in the city with Suri,” says another source. Are all the adventures too much for one 6-year-old? “Her parents are doing everything to make sure she is happy, but that doesn’t make her spoiled,” says this source. “It makes her lucky. They want to show her how loved she is.”
Vacation time will be over soon: Suri will start school this fall at Avenues, a brand-new, $40,000-a-year private school in Manhattan. During their marriage the couple had agreed Suri would be homeschooled, like Tom’s older children Isabella and Connor, because of the family’s constant travel. But now that Holmes is settled in New York, her ex is fine with her decision. “Katie wants Suri to have that sort of stability and consistency in her life,” says a source. And at Avenues “she won’t be the only new kid.”
Holmes herself is prepping for her Broadway turn in Dead Accounts and a fashion-week presentation for her line Holmes & Yang. Dating? “She’s been alone barely a month!” says the source. “She’s not dating and won’t be any time soon.” (Sources say a report that her ex-fiance Chris Klein visited her is false.) Cruise, meanwhile, heads to London soon to film All You Need Is Kill. He plans to arrange as much time as he can with Suri (he’s looking for a New York place now) and a visit for Isabella and Connor, who haven’t seen their half sibling since the split.
And Suri? “She’s a happy kid,” says a source, and hasn’t shown signs of any distress. “Tom and Katie both understand what she needs-they’re loving parents.”