A Tale of Two Disneys
Just my observations.
The original Disneyland has changed, but the foundation laid by Walt remains.
Walt was fond of saying that Disneyland was a place he and his two daughters could enjoy together. Disneyland was, and in many areas still is, a reflection of Walt's personality. From the small town main street to the Fantasyland cartoonish dark rides you can feel the input of Walt Disney. There is a family man influence mixed with perceptive entertainment and business values.
Across the entry plaza is a reflection of another man.
Disney's California Adventure was created in Michael Eisner's image. There was a story in the company paper a few weeks before the opening about Michael coming to the construction site to pick the color of seat cushions for an attraction. DCA was built for Michael and his friends, to their tastes. It is a beautiful park, although it is also changing. DCA originally had a couple of major rides, lots of stores, and several wonderful and expensive restaurants. The opening day interviews with celebrities were very enthusiastic.
Unfortunately there are not enough millionaires to fill DCA on a daily basis, it was just not a good business. The great restaurants are gone, the stores are all plush toys and t-shirts, more rides are being added. It is still a beautiful park, filled with novel sculpture, great architecture, and lovely land and hardscaped open spaces.
If you want to visit a family theme park with a magic touch, go to Disneyland.
If you want to relax in an excellent outdoor kinetic art exhibit, visit DCA.
Or buy a ticket that's good for both, just don't expect the kids to spend all day with you at Eisnerland.