Several Disney executives and others who have talked to Mr. Eisner in recent days said it was an awkward time for him. He is leaving a job he loves before he is ready to, they said. Moreover, they added, he is concerned that last year's shareholder revolt, after which he was stripped of his chairman's title, will be given greater weight in assessing his legacy than the gains he made at the company in his early years.

Mr. Eisner has yet to disclose his plans. His contract says he can remain a Disney consultant. In an interview earlier this year with Charlie Rose, the public television show host, Mr. Eisner said he hoped to remain in entertainment, perhaps producing Broadway shows or making movies. He has an apartment in New York and has long expressed interest in the theater there.