"In short, our message to you is simple, your company has the management skill and the creative talent to continue its growth path," Eisner said. "The company is in good hands. I love this company. The board loves this company."
But Eisner acknowledged that he couldn't guarantee results. "No matter how diligent we are in implementing our vision ... success is never guaranteed," he said.
Roy Disney and Gold painted a sharply different picture in brief talks they were allowed to make during the meeting.
"Michael Eisner must leave now," Gold told the shareholders, who erupted in cheers. "We see today's meeting as a first step in reforming the company, in our words, literally saving Disney."
Gold criticized Eisner for the company's poor performance over the past 10 years, for his big salaries, for dominating the board and for failing to nurture talent. He said directors have lost their souls and have buckled to Eisner's wishes.
"While we, the shareholders, watched the value of our equity decline, Michael Eisner has never had a bad year," Gold said. "Things will be different after today. From today on, the Disney board can't pretend that they have a great management team producing superior results."
Roy Disney complained that the company's name and image have suffered under Eisner's leadership.
"We need to be get back to thinking of it as a name that needs to be prized and enhanced," Roy Disney said. "What kind of change do we need to make? We need to install a new management team," he told a roaring crowd.
Eisner thanked the former directors but shot back: "I believe you just heard rhetoric from our critics that frankly replaces reason."
He called Roy Disney and Gold's complaints "fundamentally wrong."
The daylong showdown took on a circus atmosphere at times.
Inside the convention center, shareholders were waiting in line as early as 6 a.m.. Later, they were greeted by Snow White, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse while listening to popular Disney theme songs.
Outside, a Minnie Mouse knockoff passed out bright pink fliers accusing Disney of operating "sweatshops of misery" in Bangladesh and China while Christian Action Network members handed out packages denouncing lewd behavior at some of Disney's theme parks.
About 150 reporters from around the world swarmed the meeting.
More than 771 million shares were voted to withhold support from Eisner while just over 1 billion votes were cast supporting him.
After the meeting some shareholders said they weren't surprised that Eisner had so much opposition.
"I definitely think that he is the problem," said Chris Harrower, 45, an executive at Choo Choo Barn, a tourist destination in Strasburg, Pa.
"He does not have the management style ... to return Disney to profitability and to return the magic," said James Shuster, 50, who lives in Pittsgrove, N.J, and is a logistics manager at the Department of the Navy.