I think dowels are really only a major problem when they're the only perches available. So long as they have access to natural perches in their cages and so on, a playstand with dowel perches shouldn't be a huge deal. Personally, I'd just cover the dowels in vet wrap to make them softer, and create size variance.
I also replaced one of my dowel perches with one long winding branch. I was lucky in that a local pet shop collected them for their birds and already treated them, so I just got their unused ones. However, if you can find a long branch and clean it, you can do the same and wedge it between the bars. My birds love it cos they can strip the bark. I'm planning on replacing it soon.
Not a great pic, but here it is, just behind Jeff who is proudly posing for the camera
all the plastic perches are replaced with natural ones in our cages. It is easy and you can arrange the cage very nicely to make it interesting and have your birds climb, chew, grip large or small perches, etc..
I had a large play stand come with a dowel perch .... my large macaw jumped on and immediately freed most of it from the stand. The splinters went everywhere and I had a new respect for his beak strength. I replaced it with an extra cage perch.