Can more experienced engineers give me their input on this. If I open a CD player, what electronic parts should I expect to find?
By searching the web, you'll find plenty of information.
Here's a teardown of a CD player.
Here's a picture of the internals:
Here's a basic guide to the workings http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/cd4.htm
But, the best way to find out is to take it apart.