I always thought the Disney Cruise Lines should have been called "DisneySea"...since they were mini floating parks out on the oceans.
When the park opened in 2001, Disney touted that the park had the same number of attractions as Disneyland had when it opened in 1955 (which didn't address the quality of those attractions or lack of theming). I believe they even split the California section of the park into five or six "districts," to make it seem like the park had more areas than it really did.
We were in LA for the weekend and went to Disney for the day this past Friday, and WOW what a difference! The Entrance Plaza was beautiful, and set the tone for a great day. The improvements to everything, and California Adventure in particular, over the last 10-or-so-years are tremendous. We spent roughly 16 hours in the parks, mostly in California Adventure, and had a fantastic time.
The upgraded California Adventure definitely exceeded our expectations in a big way.