Best event time for your visit is the Festival of the Masters. I love the place with more Disney characters than you could name. What makes Disney Springs so appealing is that you can visit without paying a per-person entrance fee. The long Boardwalk, with its lagoon views and shops, is a great family place to stroll.
This is a great area for cocktails, art, and dining. We came away completely impressed with every aspect of this event. The Festival of the Masters is one of those things that you want to go ahead and put your reservations in for the hotels.
We had a great spot nearby at the All-Star Music Resort, and it only takes about five minutes to come over here by car. Next year we were thinking about staying at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, where they have a Boat Taxi to bring you to the art festival.
There are quite a few hotels very close to this location, and any of the disney hotels would do fine or something on International Drive. Some of the really nice stuff of the cartoon characters is rather expensive, but there's all kinds of lower-priced things. Good eating is at Josies Pizza plus Proccolino's Ristorante and Pizzeria cafe.