I agree. Unfortunately Blizz decided that endgame was king when they made the leveling process take no time at all.
That wasn't arbitrary decision, nor did we arrive at it lightly. There are more than a few factors which played into it, but I'll cover one of the really big ones:
People often play MMOs to play alongside their friends and share adventures. That social experience is important, and it can feel a bit lonely when your friends and most of the rest of the playing population is cavorting around at the level cap while you're just starting out.
It's true that some players will create new characters to level up alongside their pals (or invite a new player using the Recruit A Friend service), but all too often a new player will end up on a realm and be expected to level up with relatively little assistance before they can join their friends on their 'end game' adventures. There are now also three expansions worth of new leveling content to experience in addition to the classic quest line which takes players from 1-60. We wanted to make it easier for players to come into the game and enjoy the leveling process, but also join their friends who are already playing on a more reasonable time frame. Another reason that questing seems faster is that we've learned a lot of lessons about quest and zone design flow since the old days - you might notice this when transitioning from Azeroth to Outland now, for example.
The leveling experience is important to us, which is part of the reason we revamped Azeroth for Cataclysm. It can be fun, rich and engaging without taking as much time as it used to. Still, at the end of the day, end game gets so much attention because that's where players spend the majority of their time. We do understand that not everyone enjoys the same types of game play, and we're always looking for ways to expand and improve the end-game experience to make it more engaging for different players.
There is almost no reason what so ever to venture out into the world.
That was an error we made with the design of Cataclysm, but getting players invested in the world again is something we're interested in addressing with Mists.