He resigned as an executive on 1977 due to disagreements with his colleagues' decisions at the time. As he claimed later: "I just felt creatively the company was not going anywhere interesting. It was very stifling." But he still retained a seat on the board of directors. His resignation on 1984 was the beginning of a series of developments in the management department during the year including the replacement of company president and CEO Ronald William Miller (married to Walt's daughter Diane Marie Disney) by Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. Roy soon returned to the company as vice-chairman of the board of directors, and head of the animation department.
He set his goal at revitalizing the company's tradition of animated feature films and by the end of the decade there were successes in this department. Employees of the department have praised Roy for giving them lots of artistic freedom on their projects. During the 1990s Roy's department produced a number of commercially successful, though rarely critically acclaimed, films and the era has been called a Renaissance for the company though there was a decline in profits starting at the end of the decade. On October 16, 1998 in a surprise presentation made at the newly unveiled Disney Legends Plaza at the company's headquarters, Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner presented him with the prestigious Disney Legends Award.
Roy's pet project was the film Fantasia 2000, a sequel to the 1940 animated movie Fantasia produced by his uncle Walt Disney. Walt Disney had planned a sequel to the original movie but it was never made. Roy decided to make this long-delayed sequel, and he was the executive producer of the film which took nine years to produce and was finally released on December 17, 1999. Like its predecessor the film combines high-quality contemporary animation and classical music. It was arguably among the company's successful attempts at a quality film.
Roy has gained celebrity status. He was the last member of the Disney family to be actively involved in the company. He has been compared to both his uncle Walt Disney and his father Roy Oliver Disney, and he is said to resemble them both in appearance and personality. Forbes magazine has estimated his personal fortune at about 900 million dollars.
After a struggle with CEO Michael Eisner, Disney resigned in November 2003, citing "serious differences of opinion about the direction and style of management" in the company.