I am always glad to hear that someone is coming to the west side Lori
I agree that the first timer/one timer/infrequent visitor should definitely stay at one of the three onsite resorts. It sounds like this is a 'Disney Vacation' (not just a stop over) for you. Stay in the magic. It really makes a difference to the experience.
The Disneyland Hotel is my favorite. I wish I could have that wallpaper boarder in my own bedroom. And the DH pool is my favorite of the three resorts as well.
I agree also that you don't need a car. As long as transportation to and from the airport has been arranged, you are all set. Everything you will need onsite is within walking distance.
I am about an hours drive from Disneyland so I don't fly. But I know that LAX can be crazy. If money is not an issue then I would fly into John Wayne. I am thinking the savings will be noticeable for flights into LAX though.
My advice once you are there is to relax and stroll. There is less ground to cover then at WDW. Slow down and enjoy it.
"Disneyland is the star, everything else is in the supporting role." ~Walt Disney