Ok, posting so that maybe it will be helpful to somebody else.
Turns out, just a cleaning of the lens did the trick, at least for the time being. It recognized the discs right away afterwards.
Have still kept the PS3 open, I think given I am part way there, will take out the rest of the components and give the case a good cleaning. Maybe look into applying some arctic 5.
On another note, I touched the Power Supply while I had it open. Cannot believe how hot it gets. I also did not hear a fan pretty much at all, although I will admit that I have not kept it running for long, but is that at all normal for a CECHA01, or is it possible my fan is dead?
I know the fan is supposed to be variable speed, but given the accounts of how loud the fat models are, I would think I would hear it right away.